The Twittersphere has been humming with #CleanIT these days, after a few recent articles commented on current documents which the project and the German government released and the project group prepared for its Vienna meeting.
CleanIT is a project that aims to develop best practices to reduce “terrorist use of the internet”. And they step on the toes of every person mindful of their own civil rights in the process, as they talk about filtering and scanning of the internet. To tech-savvy persons, the text reeks of technical cluelessness and dilettantism. This, combined with the reckless prioritization of a solution to an unproven problem over civil rights, has led to the project being titled “the stupidest list of proposed internet rules in the history of mankind”.
INDECT is another project that shares a high overlap in critics with CleanIT. INDECT is trying to develop automated systems for crime detection. Its general direction: Algorithms instead of people should cross-reference CCTV-footage with other sources of information and alarm the authorities should there be “unusual” behaviour. With a list of research goals that read like they came straight from your run-of-the-mill cyberpunk dystopia, it should not come as a surprise, that these ideas have quickly gotten the attribute “high-tech Orwellian”.
What both of these projects have in common is how they came to be, and what kind of an organisational body they are. Please bear with me, I find that knowing the following is essential to understanding this approach of doing something against such projects.
The nature of the beast