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[Nettime-nl] EC: Attacks on information systems = terrorist offense
Eveline Lubbers on Fri, 21 Sep 2001 13:23:09 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] EC: Attacks on information systems = terrorist offense

Een fijn plan van de Europese Commissie,


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Hacker or Terrorist? Both.  

Jelle van Buuren   21.09.2001  

European Commission: Attacks on information systems punishable as a 
terrorist offense  

The European Commission is seeking to require every member of the 
European Union to make "attacks through interference with an 
information system" punishable as a terrorist offense if it is aimed 
at "seriously altering or destroying the political, economic, or 
social structures."  

The proposal is part of a framework decision on combating terrorism 
launched on Wednesday by the EC. The Commission is seeking a European 
definition and harmonization of laws and penalties related to 

According to the Commission, attacks on information systems are a new 
form of terrorism.  

"There have been several recent occasions where tensions in 
international relations have led to a spate of attacks against 
information systems. More serious attacks could lead not only to 
serious damage but even, in some cases, to loss of life (...) 
Although terrorist offenses committed by computer or electronic 
devices are apparently less violent, they can be as threatening as 
the offenses previously mentioned, endangering not only [the] life, 
health or safety of people but the environment as well. Their main 
characteristic is that their effect is intentionally produced at a 
distance from the perpetrators, but their consequences may also be 
much more far-reaching. Therefore, terrorist offenses releasing 
contaminating substances or causing fires, floods or explosions; 
interfering with or disrupting the supply of water, power or other 
fundamental resource; and interference with an information system are 

Therefore, attacks through interference with an information system, 
which have the aim of seriously altering or destroying the political, 
economical or social structures should be punishable as a terrorist 

Member States must ensure that a maximum penalty that is no less than 
five years will be set on information attacks.  

The definition of terrorism the Commission proposes is very broad. 
"Promoting" terrorism will also be a terrorist act. Further, acts of 
"urban violence" can be defined as terrorist acts.  

"Unlawful seizure of or damage to state or government facilities, 
means of public transport, infrastructure facilities, places of 
public use, and property (both private and public) are punishable as 
terrorist acts. This could include, for instance, acts of urban 
violence," writes the Commission in its proposal.  

The proposal does not specifically mention tightened control of the 
Internet. In the United States and several European countries, law 
enforcement agencies are pushing for greater control of Internet, for 
instance, by restricting the use of encryption and creating more 
possibilities for interception. Later this month, the European 
Telecommunication Council will discuss recent proposals related to 
privacy on the Internet.  

The storage of traffic data is one of the hottest topics. As the 
recent attacks on the United States are having the immediate effect 
of an increase in the powers of intelligence agencies and the police, 
it is possible the Council will decide in favor of the demands of the 
law enforcement agencies.  

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