BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Internet searches for bomb-making instructions should be blocked across the European Union, the bloc’s top security official said on Monday.
Internet providers should also prevent access to any site giving instructions on how to make a bomb, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said in an interview.
“I do intend to carry out a clear exploring exercise with the private sector ... on how it is possible to use technology to prevent people from using or searching dangerous words like bomb, kill, genocide or terrorism,” Frattini told Reuters.
The EU executive is to make this proposal to member states early in November as part of a raft of anti-terrorism proposals.
These include the screening of private data of passengers flying into the 27-nation bloc and the creation of an early warning system to alert police forces to thefts of explosives.
Representatives of the Internet industry are meeting the EU on Tuesday, the sixth anniversary of al Qaeda’s September 11 attacks on the United States, at a European Security Research and Innovation Forum.
The Internet has taken on huge importance for militant groups, enabling them to share know-how and spread propaganda to a mass audience, as well as to link cell members.
Asked whether a plan to block searches for bomb instructions or for the word ‘terrorism’ on Web search engines could infringe on the rights to expression and information, Frattini said in the phone interview:
”Frankly speaking, instructing people to make a bomb has nothing to do with the freedom of expression, or the freedom of informing people.
“The right balance, in my view, is to give priority to the protection of absolute rights and, first of all, right to life.”
Frattini said there would be no bar on opinion, analysis or historical information but operational instructions useful to terrorists should be blocked.
He said European legislation would spell out the principles of blocking access to bomb instructions. The details would be worked out by each EU country.
Disconnecting a Web site immediately was currently possible only in a minority of EU states including Italy, Frattini said.
After German police arrested three men suspected of a major bomb plot last week, politicians called for greater powers to monitor computers. Germany’s top appeals court has ruled the clandestine monitoring of computers by police is illegal.
“The level of the threat (in the EU) remains very high,” Frattini said. “That’s why I am making appeals and appeals for stronger and closer cooperation.” (additional reporting by David Brunnstrom)