Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the formal project partners?

The project is led by the Netherlands (NCTV) and partnered by Germany (BMI), the United Kingdom (Home Office), Belgium (CUTA), Spain (CNCA), Denmark (PET), Hungary (Ministry of Interior), Austria (BMI) and Romania (SRI).

Which private parties are involved?

Only a few ISP’s participated in the first workshop in Amsterdam. More representatives from the internet industry and as well as some NGO’s were present at the second one in Madrid . We will, however, not disclose names to the public without their permission. Companies may have some reserves about linking their corporate reputation to a project without knowing precisely what the end result will look like. Some organizations have publicly announced they participate in Clean IT meetings. This does not mean that they necessarily agree with draft documents produced by the project. It only means they participated in one or more meetings and discussed advantages and disadvantages of proposed solutions.

Can more partners join the project?

Yes, they can. Participation is not restricted to the state agencies that initiated the project. Participants from the private sector as well as government representatives from other countries are welcome to join. In the course of the project, the number of on-line and off-line participants will grow gradually. As it is an European project, our focus is mainly on European partners. Non-European participants are not excluded, though, because the (ab)use of Internet for terrorist purposes is not limited to Europe either.

Can this project, while trying to prevent the misuse of the Internet, destroy its freedom and create tools and guidelines for oppression?

This project does not aim to restrict Internet freedom, but we do have security concerns and want to limit the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes. We realize that openness, privacy and security of the Internet are the three sides of a triangle that should be balanced properly. This is why we encourage NGO´s and supporters of an open and free Internet to participate in our discussions. In order to be as transparent as possible, we have created this website where we publish our interim results for online discussion.

How do the results of this project relate to the fundamental rights of Internet users?

The fundamental rights of indivual Internet users must be respected, just as security measures must be taken to protect our society against crime and terrorism. These two perspectives are firmly rooted principles in international regulation. The Clean IT project respects this situation.

Clean IT meetings aim to include a balanced representation of both perspectives and aim to have a balanced dialogue as well. This should in turn lead to a balanced outcome.

The results of the project, however, consist of a set of ´general principles´ endorsed by public and private partners. These principles have the status of a code of conduct, as defined for example in article 16 of the E-commerce directive.

One of those principles is  that Any action taken to reduce the terrorist use of the Internet must comply with national and European laws and regulation, and respect fundamental rights and freedoms, including access to the Internet, freedoms of assembly and expression, privacy and data protection.

The Clean IT project also identifies a list of voluntary ‘best practices’. The partners in the Clean IT project consider these best practices useful instruments to possibly reduce the terrorist use of the Internet.  If implemented, they should always comply with the general principles of the Clean IT project. Implemention of best practices is in itself not a goal of the Clean IT project, and is the full responsibility of each individual organization. If implementation of a best practice should require new legislation, the normal democratic procedures should be followed.

Even though the project has a non-legislative approach, is it still possible that some laws will be written later on?

The covenant, the principles and the practices should be non-legislative because they will be adopted on a voluntary basis with support from the industry. It should also be possible to implement them quickly in any European member state, or even worldwide. Nevertheless, it is possible that one of the project results will be a call for better regulation by governments.

Is there any evidence that terrorists really use the Internet for their activities?

Yes there is. The way terrorist use the Internet is mentioned in the working document and based on official reports. Some of those reports can also be downloaded from our documents page.

What is the status of the Clean IT documents, are there any secret plans?

A draft document is published on a regular basis. This document is ‘work in progress’, and reflects more or less the views discussed in the workshops. This draft document is open to the public and comments are welcomed. The project team collects all the comments and ideas they receive and compiles them to be used as food for discussion for the next  workshop. This food-for-discussion-document has no status and is distributed only amongst the workshop participants. Only if participants agree on some parts, will suggestions be “upgraded” to the public draft document. Participants can also identify ‘bad practices’, those parts will be downgraded or deleted. The food-for-discussion document is not published because it changes continuously, is often inaccurate, and does not reflect the views of the project team or the participants. Publishing it could easily lead to misunderstandings.  At the end of the project, all documents will be publicly available.

Why is the Clean IT project unique?

The use of the Internet for terrorist purposes is extremely difficult to tackle. The main threat emanating from this project is that counter-terrorism measures will affect our online freedom and that is something we want to avoid. For this reason, the private sector has been and continues to be invited to participate in the discussions.  We welcome any person or organization that wants to contribute in a constructive way. The Clean IT project is not like ACTA where negotiations took place behind closed doors. The project does, however, have a limited budget and therefore our meetings can only involve 30-40 participants.  We do try to keep participants from Civil Society, Law Enforcement and Industry  balanced in each workshop. As far as we know, there is no other counter-terrorism related project that involves the private sector in such a strong position.

Why is the Clean IT limited to counterterrorism?

The initiative for the Clean IT project came from the National Counter Terrorism Coordinator in the Netherlands. Technically speaking, the project could be expanded to the fight against child pornography, fraud or any other form of cybercrime. This would make the project much more difficult to manage, more expensive, and it would reach far beyond the responsibilities of the current project partners. It is a pragmatic limitation, there are no plans to enlarge the scope of the project.

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