Friday

26th May 2017

Kroes: WikiLeaks will increase government transparency

The WikiLeaks disclosure of US diplomatic cables highlights the need to secure networks and individuals from hackers, EU digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes has said.

At the same time, the phenomenon stresses the need for governments to be "as transparent and open as possible," which entails the "practical advantage" of reducing the amount of information that needs to be secured, she declared.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The Dutch commissioner says transparency would reduce costs of securing data (Photo: European Parliament)

Speaking out almost three weeks after the whistleblower started publishing the leaked US cables, Ms Kroes on Thursday (16 December) during a joint US-EU cybersecurity event in Washington drew the first lessons for the EU from the Wikileaks phenomenon.

The 69-year old Dutch politician distinguished between three security incidents regarding WikiLeaks: first, the leak itself, believed to be acquired by a 22-year old US army soldier who copied all the documents onto a CD which he allegedly brought into his office to listen to pop singer Lady Gaga.

"From a cyber-security angle, this highlights the need for all organisations and individuals to protect themselves against threats to steal confidential information," Ms Kroes said.

But she also stressed the need for governments to be "as transparent and open as possible."

"I think that is an important value, but it also has a major practical advantage: it reduces the amount of information that requires special protection," the Dutch Liberal said.

On WikiLeaks being subsequently ousted from the US-basned servers and its domain name being taken down by the US company DNS, Ms Kroes asked the question if these providers "violated the terms of service" and if their location (on US soil) contributed to the decision.

"When problems arise with globally distributed services all private operators and public authorities should be able to act with some legal certainty," Ms Kroes cautiously told the US audience.

The third incident were the "hacktivist attacks" on WikiLeaks and then on sites like Amazon, Paypal and Visa in retaliation for these companies having denied service to the whistleblower. The term 'hacktivist' refers to online volunteers who allowed their computers to be used as bots - zombie computers used in mass-scale attacks which jam traffic to the website.

"A hacker called Jester mounted a denial of service (DoS) attack against the Wikileaks website. Later, in support of WikiLeaks, the group Anonymous distributed a software (LOIC) to mount voluntary distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against Visa, Paypal and governmental sites," Ms Kroes recalled.

As the number of computers used in the attacks was apparently only a few hundreds, the commissioner noted that "such attacks can be organised by just a few" and also that most of these owners voluntarily gave access to their computers.

"However, the "victim" services have also proved quite robust and agile, which demonstrates the resilience of the cloud architectures we have in place," she said.

As a consequence, the EU was now looking at criminalising the setting up of botnets and attacking information systems, she said. Also, the commission was aiming at rendering more effective justice and police cooperation in the cyber-area.

Meanwhile, in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has finally left police custody, after his bail was approved following the rejection of a Swedish appeal. While Swedish prosecutors are pursuing an alleged sexual abuse case, US authorities are also mounting a spying case against him, his lawyers said.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

Investigation

Fight Club: Russische Spione suchen EU-Rekruten

Sicherheitsexperten warnen, dass russische Geheimdienste Kampfsportvereine nutzen, um potenzielle Unruhestifter in Deutschland und anderen EU-Ländern zu rekrutieren.

EUobserved

Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

Opinion

Respecting human rights is good business

Trade policy creates economic welfare, but it could also be an unmissable opportunity to protect the environment, human rights and ensure sustainable development across Europe and beyond.

Nato head defends 'blunt' US leader

Nato chief Stoltenberg defended Trump’s behaviour at Thursday’s summit. The prime minister of Montenegro also apologised for him.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

EUobserved

Scramble for UK agencies paves way for Trumpian claims

The Spanish health minister this week bragged that Barcelona was “the best city”, had “the best building”, and “the best infrastructure” to host the EU's medicines agency post-Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms