Mr Ansip’s Terms and Conditions

Is this what Mr Ansip has in mind for all companies’ Ts& Cs in the future?

“Please feel free to distribute illegal content using our facilities. We won’t do anything to try to detect it or stop you. Knock yourself out.”

If that’s what you mean, why not say it?

Or else

” These Ts&Cs don’t mean anything because we don’t do anything to ensure they are being honoured. Have fun. We thought we would state the position honestly because, thanks to the EU, the chances of us finding out you misbehaved are so close to zero that they might as well be zero.”

Law enforcement agencies across the world have candidly admitted they cannot address the volumes of illegal behaviour online, which includes the distribution of child sex abuse material. They have constantly called for companies to step up their efforts to rid cyberspace of this kind of material. So have the victims. What does multistakeholderism mean if it excludes businesses from doing the right thing in a way that jeopardises nobody’s rights?

PhotoDNA and similar look at patterns. If I post a picture of  my kitten or a recipe for banana cake it will not see either. PhotoDNA only picks up files containing patterns that match images that have already been found to be illegal and are included in a database. In what meaningful sense of the word is that “surveillance”?

PhotoDNA has been “out there” for nine years. We constantly hear calls for evidence. We have lots of evidence about PhotoDNA’s  successes. Where is the evidence that anything is going wrong? And why did nobody, repeat, nobody, talk to anyone in the child protection world before they came up with this ridiculous idea?

Anybody who is looking for bad stuff must necessarily look at non-bad stuff in order to eliminate it. Thus, PhotoDNA and similar can therefore be seen as a highly targeted  form of anti-surveillance. It does not go through every file of mine saying “Not another kitten video. Let’s move on. Oh dear, the same crap recipe for banana cake, has this guy no imagination? Ah ha. This is new. I wonder what it is? Nah. Pictures of his parrot. Has he not got a life?” As I said, in what meaningful sense of the word is that “surveillance”?

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International and is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John is now or has formerly been an Adviser to the Council of Europe, the UN (ITU), the EU and UNICEF. John has advised many of the world's largest technology companies on online child safety. John's skill as a writer has also been widely recognised.
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