You are currently browsing EDRi's old website. Our new website is available at

If you wish to help EDRI promote digital rights, please consider making a private donation.

Flattr this


EDRi booklets

CleanIT is vague and dangerous according to CleanIT-funded study

24 April, 2013

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: CleanIT laut Studie unklar und gefährlich

The University of Tilburg was requested by the Dutch National Coordinator on Counter-Terrorism and Security to comment on the fundamental rights implications of the so-called “Best Practices” that have been developed in the Clean IT project.

This report commented on a final very short document from CleanIT and not the more outlandish proposals leaked by EDRi several months ago.

The Tilburg report argues that, given the lack of clarity on the term “terrorist use of the Internet” and the unpredictability of the practical implementation of these Best Practices, their effects on fundamental rights can potentially be extremely harmful.

For instance, the Tilburg University report detected possible infringements to the:
- freedom of thought, conscience, and religion;
- freedom of speech;
- freedom of assembly and of association;
- right to privacy and data protection;
- freedom to conduct a business;
- right to education;
- non-discrimination;
- respect for cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity;
- access to services of general economic interest;
- consumer protection;
- right to a good administration;
- right of access to documents;
- right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial;
- presumption of innocence and right to defence;
- principle of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties;
- right not to be punished twice in criminal proceedings for the same criminal offence.

The main and most recurrent risk of violation concerns freedom of communication. A significant number of the “Best Practices” would lead to the removal of content which hypothetically falls under ill-defined “terrorist use of the Internet” and thus, directly harm freedom of speech. The lack of clarity on the definition of this term and the lack of transparency involving private parties allowed to report misuse of the Internet could provoke censorship and limit the user’s freedom of communication and expression. Furthermore, Internet providers do not have the expertise to assess whether Internet content is illegal or not. This complex task should be carried by a specific authority.

The Clean IT project raises many concerns on its compliance with fundamental rights as the implementation of several “Best Practices” could harm a large number of them and promote a culture of fear, as Internet users would be constantly reminded of a potential terrorist threat, leading to overemphasising security risks at the detriment of due respect for fundamental rights.

Oddly, while the CleanIT project has always claimed to be open and transparent, the organisers have omitted to provide a link to the analysis from its first page.

Tilburg paper (01.2013)

EDRi leak of CleanIT discussion document (21.09.2012)

CleanIT project

(Contribution by Estelle Massé - EDRi Intern)



Syndicate contentCreative Commons License

With financial support from the EU's Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme.
eu logo