The UK is collaborating with the German, Dutch and Czech governments on a secret research project on how to effectively block the distribution of material online.
Officials across Europe are concerned about websites that are hosted outside the EU and so cannot be taken down from the Internet. It's thought governments will explore technical measures such as filtering technologies, as well as international cooperation on take-down notices issued to ISPs.
The European Commission has agreed to fund a project, alluded to in the Home Office's recently published counter-terror strategy, CONTEST 2, as "a significant EU project with Commission support". The European Commission refused to say how much funding it had awarded. "The details of the awarded grant are still subject to an agreement in writing which implies further scrutiny of the budget estimate submitted by Germany and its project partners," a spokeswoman said.
According to the Home Office, UK hosting providers have been cooperative in voluntarily removing material. In CONTEST 2 however, officials appeared frustrated that the powers to enforce take-down, granted by Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006, were useless overseas. "The greater problem is that most of the material of concern is hosted on web servers overseas," they wrote. "Section 3 notices can be issued to ISPs outside the UK but cannot be enforced."
Now the one word I have left out of this so far is that over used term 'extremist'. The report states that it is concerning the distribution of 'Islamic extremist material online'.
Naturally it would be discriminatory to merely block 'Islamic extremist material', so who doubts that this exercise will also be used to block output from bloggers who have taken care to host their material outside of the European Union? Will Guido or OH be considered extremist?