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Czech Interior Minister Chovanec would like to restrict anonymity on the Internet

9.1.2016 20:21
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (2015). (PHOTO:  mvcr.cz)
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (2015). (PHOTO: mvcr.cz)

According to Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, the time has come to begin discussing various options for how to approach the Internet. "If I were to say now that I would like all Internet users to identify themselves, everyone would start throwing things at me. However, in my view, the time has come to debate how to move in that direction," yesterday's edition of the Czech daily Lidové noviny quoted him as saying.

Chovanec was responding to the events connected with the hacking of Czech Prime Minister Sobotka's private email by the neo-Nazi online group White Media. The paper warns that in Europe it is Russia that has gone the farthest in restricting Internet freedom, where without personal identification, which takes place through a mobile telephone number, it is impossible to access any public wi-fi networks.

In Russia it is impossible to buy a SIM card for a mobile telephone without providing one's identification. In France, similar tendencies are beginning to arise after the terrorist attacks there, and the US Department of Defense has also repeatedly attempted to get online anonymity reduced.

The Czech Interior Minister is also bothered that currently there is reportedly no option for removing illegal content from the Internet. Web pages with child pornography or racist and xenophobic articles are all registered in the USA and subject to its jurisdiction.

This, too, is the case of the White Media web pages. "In the past we repeatedly asked the operator and the authorities in the USA to intervene when that web page attacked [Labor] Minister Michaela Marksová-Tominová. However, given the American Constitution, that is not possible," the Interior Minister explained.

Hackers from the neo-Nazi White Media group have chosen the Czech Prime Minister as their target for the second time in a row recently. After they hijacked his Twitter account on 23 December and used it to publish hateful comments against refugees and links to racist articles, they then hacked his email account on 5 January and published what they allege is the PM's correspondence on their web page.

EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová spoke with representatives of technology firms such as Facebook and Google at the end of last year about incitement to hatred on the Internet. She believes it is possible to quickly introduce changes in three areas - in the more rapid detection of hate speech, in more effectively removing it from the Internet, and in better mechanisms for protecting the victims of online attacks.

"There is more and more evidence that incitement to hatred on the Internet leads to violence offline. Anonymity on the Internet is unfortunately abused by some to post very violent messages and speech. While this might seem harmless, it bolsters much more markedly discriminatory reactions. That is why we must accelerate the work that will lead to the reduction and eradication of this Internet phenomenon," Jourová said in an interview for Czech Television.    

jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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freedom, Internet, Milan Chovanec, Kriminalita



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