EU wants to collect terrorism related information on the Internet


Intelligence community concerned with hacker-slang such as the use of the letter "z" in "passwordz, gamez, crackz, softwarez".

The intelligence services of the European Union are developing a system for the exchange of terrorism related information on the Internet. "Namely through the Internet [...] has sprung a community specially devoted to its undue exploitation and improper use', according to Portugal, the present Presidency of the European Union.

The Portuguese Presidency presented its views to the working party on terrorism, a European group of high-ranking intelligence officers that is part of the European Council for Justice and Home Affairs. In the document (5724/00 ENFOPOL 6, Brussels 4 february 2000), the Portuguese Presidency states:

"Such type of activity permits those groups, who practice several unlawfull acts, namely terrorism, cult related, neo-nazism, cyberterrorism, racism etc, the dissemination and propagandisation of their ideals. Further, the ease and celerity in the establishment of contacts allows for the internationalisation of such phenomena and, simultaneously, permits a greater adhesion and recruitment for their cause."

Portugal proposes the adoption of a system of "Interchange of Open Information Collected on the Internet", with the purpose of making available "better information, as well as in increasing the efficacy in the use of its resources". The system should be capable of affording to all members an "effective tool in the detection of information, in the context of the fight against terrorism".

Portugal wants to create a common lexicon made up of a set of keywords in different European languages. It seems to be very concerned with the tech-slang of hackers, "such as for instance the use of the letter z in the end of words by the hacker community (passwordz, gamez, crackz, softwarez)." The ignorance of such mechanisms makes it, according to the document, "an extremely hard task to achieve good results in the research".

After research, results are analysed and sent by encrypted email to the national intelligence services, in accordance with a pre-analysis of its contents. As a final product, a periodic report on the facts detected will be developed by each country.

During the meeting of the working party on terrorism, the delegations embraced the proposals of the Portuguese Presidency. The representative of Europol, which has also a task in counter-terrorism, declared that Europol could further examine the proposal and make suggestions for the concrete implementation.

The intelligence services are not the only European law enforcement agencies that consider Internet to be a great threat for public order and internal security. The custom administrations of the member states of the European Union are also preparing an "action plan for the fight against Internet fraud" (document 5254/00 CRIMORG 6 ENFOCUSTOM 4, Brussels 17 january 2000). According to the action plan, Internet is a source of taxfraude and the trade in fake-products, tobacco and drugs. The action plan proposes the creation of national 'central Internet control squads', which must act as national contactpoints for informal forms of cooperation. This informal network should monitor Internet "as strictly as possible", according to the action plan.

The custom authorities should have access to documents that are related to transactions under investigation. Therefore, according to the action plan, "it should be desirable if providers would be obliged to store digital documents." Also, the customs should have access to financial information stored by banks, to trace the origin of goods.

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