European regulators are now demanding increased domestic spying on citizens online internet activities in the wake of the Oslo terror attacks according to several online news reports.
In a knee-jerk reaction, that can only be compared to actions taken by U.S. bureaucrats in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, politicians and law enforcement officials across Europe have joined in a growing chorus to demand legislation be enacted to require extensive spying on the online activities of citizens.
The call for new legislation comes in the wake or revelations that Anders Behring Breivik, who has reportedly confessed to the twin terror attacks, has published a Twitter message, a YouTube video, and a 1,500-page manifesto online.
Legislators are arguing that ramped up online spying could have prevented the attacks from occurring.
According to German news service Deutsche Welle calls from politicians and police to implement “enhanced Internet monitoring” came within days of the attack.
A member of the Brussels non-profit organization European Digital Rights told Deutsche Welle, “often policies would have been irrelevant to deal with the tragedy but it doesn’t matter – there is a ‘reassurance vacuum’ which has to be filled with something… anything, even something useless and counterproductive.”
The report goes on to detail quote German, Finnish and Estonian politicians who say enacting extensive online monitoring of the Internet will prevent future attacks.
According to a report from End The Lie, domestic policy spokesman for the German Conservative Christian Democrats, Hans-Peter Uhl claimed that “the Norway attacks proved that Germany needed to bring back its data retention laws.”
“That sounds like a perfect summation of how the PATRIOT Act was forced into law”, writes the Editor of End The Lie Madison Rupport, “I sincerely hope that Europe does not fall victim to the absurd logic that has eroded the entirety of the United States’ Constitution and our Bill of Rights. It would be a sad day to see some of the last vestiges of internet freedom in Europe fall by the wayside like America did so many years ago.”
The calls for increased surveillance are extending beyond the capacities offered by government agencies and come to parallel the industrial corporate backed espionage networks that the U.S government uses to spy on their citizens.
In particular, regulators are targeting the corporations that provide internet access and run social networking sites so new Internet monitoring legislation will followthe tracking, tracing and data basing individuals implemented by the United States.
Officials investigating the terror attacks say that Anders Breivik spent over 200 hours on Google searching for instructions on bomb-building using obvious terms such as “how to make a bomb.” It is alleged that he used that information to build a Times-Square style car bomb similar to the bombs used by Al-Qaeda operatives.
Given the conflicting and at points blatantly false reports ran by the media, such as initial allegations that an Al-Qaeda linked Muslim group was responsible for the bombings and then continued reports even after Breivek’s arrest the bombings were an Al-Qaeda attack, we are not certain if the information was obtained by Google at this time.
However, the reports that the bomb building information was obtained through Google’s search engine has infuriated regulators. They are now questioning why Google, with perhaps the world’s most advanced user tracking technology, didn’t Google pick up on Breivek’s activities and report them to law enforcement officials.
A report on The Conversation digs deeply into that question and offers up the usual rebuttals for inaction on behalf of Google such as freedom of speech and inability of the search giant to dedicate resources to detect such activities without slowing down their search engine.
The latter explanation doesn’t seem to hold weight upon examination when considered in context with statements from Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange, who reports that the U.S. government taps into the databases of Google and Facebook in real time to spy on citizens.
The violations of civil rights may in fact be a legitimate reason that Google is not spying on users in Europe at this time, especially in wake of charges that Google illegally collected user data as part of their street view data collection program.
However, there is little doubt that corporations in the United States spy on users online activities for the government.
Microsoft has recently been awarded a patent for technology that the company invented voluntarily that has the ability to intercept all online communications, including Skype Calls and Instant Messaging, and forward those communications to government agencies wishing to spy on people.
However, if European regulators follow in the footsteps of their American counterparts it will only be a matter of time before civil liberties are trumped for matters of national security. Europeans may soon find themselves openly being targets of the same level of privacy violations and sinister cyber-surveillance operations that American citizens face.