Tuesday

26th Jan 2021

EU to strengthen surveillance of terrorist websites

  • Only five experts in each EU state are allowed to access the portal (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Union wants to strengthen its monitoring of militant Islamic websites, saying the internet plays a major role in the running and communication network of terrorist organisations.

EU ambassadors gathering for their weekly meeting in Brussels on Wednesday (30 May) decided that a newly established online police portal "needs to be further strengthened" to combat terrorism, according to press reports.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The high-security portal - named "Check the Web" - was launched earlier this month and allows the 27 EU states to pool data on Islamist propaganda and internet chatter at the European Police Office (Europol) in The Hague.

"We allow EU member states to share their responsibilities in checking the web," head of Europol Max-Peter Ratzel told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that "it's for Islamic terrorism."

"If you see that a web site is [already being] checked by another country, you can save energy," Mr Ratzel said. The site is only accessible to a maximum of five experts from each EU state.

The portal is to include a list of links to monitored web sites, statements by terrorist organisations and details on other experts checking the web in EU countries, including their language competence and technical expertise.

Some member states – led by Germany – are currently sharing the task of analysing al Qaeda's media department, as-Sahab, according to EU ambassadors.

"Terrorists use the internet not only as a means to communicate and spread propaganda, but also to radicalise, recruit and train terrorists, to spread instructions on how to carry out concrete offences and to transfer covert information," said the conclusions of their meeting, obtained by Reuters.

Germany, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, pushed to start the cooperation in web-surveillance, saying not all 27 member states had the expertise needed to translate and analyse websites used by extremists, reports Dagens Nyheter.

The idea first came to light in 2006 when interior ministers of the G6 states - France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK – met in March last year and decided to create the Check the Web portal.

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

EU Commission mulls police access to encrypted apps

The European Commission has not ruled out allowing police access to encrypted services. Instead, it says a balance needs to be found to protect rights while at the same time offering some leeway to law enforcement.

Muscat poker-faced in Malta inquiry into journalist murder

"How well I'm screwed," was the then Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat's first thought on 16 October 2017, when he found out his country's best-known journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, had just been murdered by a car bomb.

EU law needed to protect free press, NGOs say

More than 60 NGOs and media, including EUobserver, have signed a call for an EU-wide law to stop the rich and powerful from silencing critics with malicious litigation.

Opinion

Rule-of-law deal: major step for Europe of values

At the very moment when an incumbent president across the Atlantic was carrying out staggering attacks on the foundations of democracy, the European Parliament obtained a historic agreement to protect the rule of law in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Giuseppe Conte: scapegoat or Italy's most cunning politician?
  2. Borrell to meet Lavrov, while Navalny behind bars
  3. Too few central and eastern Europeans at top of EU
  4. Rift widens on 'returns' deadline in EU migration pact
  5. EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map
  6. Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep
  7. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  8. Why Russia politics threaten European security

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us