back to article Two leading ladies of Europe warn that internet regulation is coming

The two most powerful women in Europe still have their eyes firmly on internet regulation. Fresh from her failure in the UK general election, still-prime minister Theresa May used her first public address announcing a new coalition government to stress that she will continue her self-declared "cracking down on the ideology of …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    But Angela has a working brain...

    ...and a Physics PhD, so probably won't be insisting that the maths of encryption is un-discovered.

    Interestingly, article in the Grauniad notes that Tory MPs are spending a lot of time on Whatsap. Isn't that the encrypted messaging system that trrrrsts use?

    1. razorfishsl

      Re: But Angela has a working brain...

      If it was Grindr... it might be more news worthy.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But Angela has a working brain...

        Tory MP in homosessual tryst shocker. Not

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: But Angela has a working brain...

      ... Er,<Pedant Mode> a degree in Physics. Her PhD is in Chemistry </Pedant Mode>:-

      "Merkel, Angela (1986). Untersuchung des Mechanismus von Zerfallsreaktionen mit einfachem Bindungsbruch und Berechnung ihrer Geschwindigkeitskonstanten auf der Grundlage quantenchemischer und statistischer Methoden (Investigation of the mechanism of decay reactions with single bond breaking and calculation of their velocity constants on the basis of quantum chemical and statistical methods): Academy of Sciences of the German Democratic Republic - Cited in Langguth, Gerd (August 2005, p. 109. ISBN 3-423-24485-2. Listed in the Catalogue of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek under subject code 30 (Chemistry).

      1. CheesyTheClown

        Re: But Angela has a working brain...

        A Ph.d. in Chemistry, while not likely to be a candidate for the Field's medal any time in the near future should have a high enough level of mathematical understand to grasp concepts such as factoring and coefficients. She might not understand the relationship of mersenne primes and polynomial based encryption mechanisms... but I'm pretty sure she has friends she respects who do.

        I don't like Merkel... and with regard to politics, I don't particularly respect her. I suppose this is very likely because the leadership positions in Germany have demands which make people into assholes (where in most other countries, asshole is a prerequisite). But I do think she's competent. Theresa May shares the shit out of me and gives me nightmares. She's basically Donald Trump with an accent which sounds benign. I really think she should change her name to Umbridge and get herself some special quill pens.

        1. Named coward

          Re: But Angela has a working brain...

          "a high enough level of mathematical understand to grasp concepts such as factoring and coefficients"

          an idea of what factorization is: probably

          how that is even related to encryption: such optimism

        2. Just Enough

          Re: But Angela has a working brain...

          The school of science she has her PhD from doesn't matter that much. What's important is that she has some regard for experts in subjects that are outside of her own field. This is usual with scientists.

          What the world is suffering from now is too many people approaching a problem with the belief that an hour of their time browsing the internet gives them the right to an opinion that is every bit as valid and significant as someone who has spent their entire career on it. And what's more, that hour has given them an insight that the many so-called experts have completely missed. Yes, hundreds of them have spent years studying something, but have completely failed to see what is obvious to someone grounded in the real world of politics.

          1. nijam

            Re: But Angela has a working brain...

            > ... an hour of their time browsing the internet...

            Nothing new in that, and nothing to do with the internet. Historically, an hour of time reading a tabloid, or an hour of time bulshi??ing with your mates in the pub, would have the same effect.

    3. mmeier

      Re: But Angela has a working brain...

      More important our "Federal Gerbil" learned her political skills in a very oprersiv dictatorship (she was a FDJ propaganda specialist back in the GDR) and had an interesting initial political mentor (a Stasi IM - Wolfgang Schnur). And old people often fondly remember the golden "years of their youth" and "want them back". So she does her best to re-create the GDR currently with a secret police state that will make Mielke green with envy

  2. GrumpyKiwi

    Stupid is as stupid does

    I look forward to fans of Freedom like Saudi Arabia, Burma and Venezuela being appointed to Ms. Merkel's international regulatory body. Just like the recent appointment of Saudi to the UN Women's Rights Commission, this can only be good for the internet.

    Having a degree in Physics doesn't stop you from being a complete 'tard about other things clearly.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They want to crack down on islamic extremism... by not monitoring the places it is most likely to be found or paying close attention to those extremists already known to the authorities, and instead prying into the private affairs of the general citizenry, in a sphere that islamic extremists generally avoid in preference to face-to-face contact and the good old-fashioned sneakernet.

    I wish they'd stop making these excuses and just admit that they're a bunch of censorious prudes who are incensed at the thought of people enjoying their lives.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May lost her majority thanks to a free and open internet.

    Merkel heads a government that still thinks video games rot your brain unless they're censored to make violence less unpleasant. Because teaching kiddies that violence isn't unpleasant can never go wrong.

    No surprises these two want to control what you can say and when.

  5. Smooth Newt Silver badge

    The two most powerful women in Europe

    That will be Angela Merkel and Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.

    Theresa May is on double secret probation from her party, and she can't pass any legislation without the permission of Arlene Foster and Ruth Davidson, the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party and the Scottish Conservatives.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The two most powerful women in Europe

      "she can't pass any legislation without the permission of Arlene Foster and Ruth Davidson"

      She might even have to get her own rank and file to agree.

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  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. grizewald

      Re: Logic Of Extra Monitoring

      > so why on earth do they therefore need access to our internet history etc. ?

      So that when it is convenient to make things difficult for you, they already have all the proof they need to associate the real life you with the AC you.

      The Internet rarely forgets. Government data warehouses even less so.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Logic Of Extra Monitoring

      And on the subject of the IPA & terrorism, what with the IPA apparently not logging the website view history of politicians, has anyone thought to ask what if a politician turns out to be a terrorist?

      I'm not suggesting anything in particular beyond the whole "one rule for them, no rule for us" thing is complete bullshit.

    3. Tim99 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Logic Of Extra Monitoring

      Following up on my post in a similar Australian El Reg Thread - About the False Positive Paradox, which is often used in medicine and the "real sciences". Roughly, this states that: When the target is a small proportion of a population, and there is a probability of misidentifying something that is not your target, the real targets can become lost in a larger amount of false positives.

      In this case, let us make up some numbers - The number of potential active terrorists is 500 in a population of 50 million. Assuming Sturgeon's revelation (that 90% of everything is crap) our 500 terrorists have in their ranks 50 competent people; unfortunately, if they are competent you are less likely to identify them before they are an active threat. Now, let us assume that the mechanisms of the State are nearly faultless and only misidentify one in a million of the whole population as a threat (when they are not); you would then have an equal number of innocents to baddies, which is manageable. In the real world the number of false positives could be one in a thousand, so for every 50 baddies you are wasting your time looking at 50,000 innocents; or if it is one in a hundred that becomes half a million people... To be charitable (and I am not), this type of surveillance may be useful in tidying up after an incident, but is almost certainly counterproductive in its stated aim to protect the bulk of the population (from the threat posed from a very small number).

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Logic Of Extra Monitoring

        Re: false positives

        I think you're kinda missing the point. No one is born a terrorist, it's something they're persuaded to do.

        Can we tell who in a population of 50million has been persuaded? Well, you're right about that part, unless they've been incompetent their Internet browsing history won't betray them particularly.

        The point is that when they have gone and done something, like stab a load of people in a pub or whatever, you then want to know who persuaded them to do it. You no longer care about the attacker themselves, they're likely dead.

        So at this point you have a true positive - a dead attacker.

        What the Internet then makes very difficult is finding out who they've been talking to, because it's that person you really want to find.

        And the reason the Internet matters in all this is because persuasion needs communication, and that's either face to face, or over the 'net. They're not going to be using the phone, or the post, or pigeons...

        Conflicting Requirements

        The difficulty has always been that the Internet is trying to meet conflicting requirements. The first is to let good people do whatever the hell they like. The second is to stop bad people using it at all. The Internet can't tell the difference...

        The situation the governments find themselves in is one where American social network companies are deliberately making the job of finding the persuaders impossible. You go to WhatsApp with a dead terrorist, an undeniably true positive, and WhatsApp refuse to cooperate (their end encryption doesn't mean they don't know the who-to-who).

        That doesn't go down well. Not well at all.

        And any elected and ruling politicians, who therefore have a responsibility for law and order, will then behave the same, no matter what European country or party they're from. They're gonna do something about it.

        Not doing something about it is demonstrably electoral suicide (look at Spain and the Madrid bombings).

        So they will pass stringent laws, impose fines, demand access, ban services; that's what politicians do. It's inevitable.

        Adapt or Die?

        What the social networks seem to be ignoring is that elected governments in Europe with clear majorities can and will pass such laws. Germany already has. If the companies don't adapt, they'll lose out.

        So why not cave in a little, open up a little? Answer: it won't wash well in the US... That's the risk of trying to run a global network and impose a US themed moral mono-culture on everyone else.

        1. Tim99 Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Logic Of Extra Monitoring


          I suspect that I am not missing the point. A very long time ago I was a minor technical functionary working in this area in the U.K. CIvil Service. The real point, I believe, is that governments are rightly concerned that their main threat is from their own populations, small numbers of people are not normally a significant real threat. A State's main purpose is to preserve itself and to forward the interests of whomsoever the State deems to be important. A Government's main concern is to keep itself in power and influence the population so that it can remain in power. Often the aims of the State and the Government are the same, sometimes they are not. Governments are concerned about "Events, dear boy, events" leading to loss of power. The State does not worry too much about who is in Government providing they do not threaten the structures that the State relies on to continue itself.

          If we assume that a State threat is something like having more than 40% of its working population un(der)employed because of technological changes leading to the potential to have a widespread break down of social order; the functionaries of the State's desire to monitor the population makes sense. Governments and the politicians that comprise them (particularly those of a right-wing authoritarian persuasion) are happy to comply, as it is part of their "Bad people/things are out there, and you need a strong leader/government like us to protect you" agenda.

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      "There is NO mention of the process of the control of this access to our"

      You still seem to believe this has something to do with stopping terrorists/drug dealers/peadophiles/money launderers/whatever

      Those false positives and data leaks are not a mistake.

      They are a design "feature."

  8. Jim-234

    Such backwards logic it could only come from polticians

    So blame the terror attacks on "free internet"


    Terrorists were supposedly all already known to the authorities

    Terrorists had previously been reported to police for being potential terrorists

    Terrorists had been under surveillance but the authorities couldn't be bothered to keep it up?

    Some Terrorists were even confronted by the police waving ISIS flags in public

    Some Terrorists recently traveled to known failed states that are hotbeds of radicals & then were allowed back in freely.

    Some Terrorists were even featured on documentaries about radicals

    So... apparently government control of the internet will fix the problem when the government won't do anything about somebody practically going around with a "I am going to do bad things" caption over their head?

    Supposedly this whole global spying and invading everyone's privacy was to "protect" us?

    It seems the logical thing is to leave things alone, continue with the spying & you know actually go nab the people enjoying all the Jihad stuff (no need to worry about encryption, all you need is who they are talking to and that's easy, just ask the NSA).

    If you know there are these Jihadi propaganda videos up online... see who is watching them, commenting on them, sharing them and watching a whole bunch of them... then go pay them a visit.

    But apparently the authorities have time to follow up on online comments the local Muslim community finds distressing.

    Sounds much more like the governments have hated the free internet for a long time and "global war on terror" or "terrorism" or "Public safety" or "The children" is pretty much any cover story to get what they really want. Then they will go on ignoring real threats as usual and stamping out political or social ideas they feel uncomfortable with.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Such backwards logic it could only come from polticians

      Ignore? Oh no, no, no. The terrorists are SOME ONE'S pawn.

      Now does it make sense.

      1. wayward4now

        Re: Such backwards logic it could only come from polticians

        Not to mention young people in radical states usually have no job, no date to the prom, no shoes, no sh*t to attract a mater and live some sort of "good life". So, the only employer in town, willing to put shoes on their feet, a couple of dinars and a rifle are the bad actors ... from OUR perspectives. We should invite the Chinese to come in, provide infrastructure and order, since we'd rather bomb them out of their homes. The Chinese know how to deal with extremists in ways we won't consider. They would be the perfect answer.

  9. Meph

    How to evolve a smarter criminal in easy steps

    The problem here is twofold, not only do you catch a lot of (mostly) innocent people in your dragnet, but you also catch the stupid criminals and leave the smart ones behind.

    The former wastes everyone's time and money, which pisses off the voting public and puts a dent in the reelection hopes of the governmental elite. The latter, similarly to the evolution of antibiotic resistant superbugs, simply makes the surviving criminals harder to catch. I personally wonder at what point the line is crossed and we then get the hero we deserve....

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: How to evolve a smarter criminal in easy steps

        "where neighbour reports on neighbour"

        But that's exactly what NSA and GCHQ and their friends have been doing for 20 years and more, in effect: traffic analysis of metadata tells them who talks to who, with no need to break encryption. And the worst bad people not being stupid, they aren't going to use any kind of encryption that's subject to a back door attack for the stuff that really matters. You might want to watch the documentary "A Good American".

        Agencies looking for bad people don't need to break encryption, but the Thought Police need to break encryption, which is why this is very scary. See you in the Chestnut Tree Cafe.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: How to evolve a smarter criminal in easy steps

          traffic analysis of metadata tells them who talks to who, with no need to break encryption

          and if it had been around in the 18th C it could quite possibly have shut down the American Revolution as various people have shown.

          Whether that would have been a good or bad thing is left as an exercise for the reader.

      2. DaddyHoggy

        Re: How to evolve a smarter criminal in easy steps

        The idiots will continue to be encouraged into being idiots too.

        Cannon-Fodder for the security forces who will convince themselves they're doing a blinding job while the real terrorists get on with the real work.

        We keep being told how many plots are foiled compared to the 'few' that succeed. But what if they're the ones that are supposed to be foiled?

      3. karlnapf

        Yes, we "need" them again.....

        the "Blockwarts" and "IMs". German Stasi will looks like a kindergarden if we go down this road further....

      4. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: How to evolve a smarter criminal in easy steps

        >Driving the issue off the internet, for terrorism, means physical monitoring approaches, and this is vastly more expensive that internet monitoring.

        Terrorism was never on the internet.

        It is simple and its low-tech, because that is reliable. Given that nearly all terrorism is Islamic, they tend not to worry about surviving. People willing to die a almost impossible to stop. Smarter terrorists are not required for effective terrorism.

        Terrorists are like celebrities. The only thing worst than being hurt is being ignored.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How to evolve a smarter criminal in easy steps

          @P. Lee: "Terrorists are like celebrities. The only thing worst than being hurt is being ignored."

          A perceptive point.

          We should not be fearing these suicide attackers. We should pity them.

          We shouldn't be portraying them as evil and scary. They must be thrilled to be perceived as such. We should be saying they're gullible idiots. They haven't been "radicalised." They've been conned.

          But the state and media continue to reward these weak-minded fools by describing them with macho terminology that makes suicide bombing seem like an exciting and impressive career choice. Proof, if it were needed, that the state and media are more interested in stoking fear for their own ends than in genuinely combating corrupt ideologies.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She didn't announce a new coalition government because its not! That's just lazy to call it that.

  11. Thomas Steven 1

    there is clearly confidence that something solid will result.

    Most likely a huge grogan that won't flush.

  12. superyubs


    Both leaders have massive immigration in there countries. Merkel has opened the boards bringing in these people to the whole of europe. She has done her best to crush Germany's freedom of speech by introducing hate crime laws that send people to jail for speaking up against what is happening. Now she wants to enforce laws on everyone else in the world.

    You can't create the problem and then offer a solution that punishes everyone else. The bill Theresa May is pushing was written BEFORE the latest attacks and was waiting to be introduced.

    If you give up your freedoms for security, you will have none.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Immigration

      I'm against immigration too.

      Banksters, kleptocrats, oil sheikhs, property speculators, and hedge fund managers shouldn't be allowed to enter the country.

    2. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Interesting

      Wrong about Merkel. Germany has, for obvious historical reasons, hate crime laws and has had for a long time, it is not Merkel who is behind that (I don't know if they have been amended in her time)

      Is it fundamentally unreasonable that you want the laws of the land applied online too? (this is not a retorical question!)

  13. Tom 64

    And the difference between the two?

    Merkel wants to crack down on the corporate balkanisation of the internet, and Theresa Palpatine just wants more power for her executive. Possibly so she can then sell it off to a corporate buddy later.

  14. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    "Don't mess with Merkel"

    Well, if she wants her own May-style folly, bring it on. Hubris has no borders.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The May and Merkel show!

    Now with extra numpty

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fear and isolation.

    They whoever they may be have been working towards this for a long time (tin foil hat required for this).

    They don't want people congregating or discussing without their knowledge, point to fact, the traditional pub or club has been taxed out of existence by successive governments. The press have sensationalised paedophiles and terrorists so much that kids don't play out anymore. The internet came along and allowed people to do the one thing the government didn't want them to do which is discuss government and hold them to account for their actions. When they get these powers there will be fear that you can held accountable for what you do online even if that is just discussing the government.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, we are sleepwalking into a totalitarian state.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Coming soon to the UK: Death Penalty for Blaspheming on the Internet against Theresa May (especially if you're Catholic).

    1. wolfetone

      Re: Blasphemy

      Is that one of the DUP's demands to prop up the Tory government?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blasphemy

        I thought they wanted to ban gays from having abortions.

        1. wolfetone

          Re: Blasphemy

          Well yeah, they also want those who harm animals to be imprisoned.

          Says a lot about them when they value the life of a dog over a gay pregnant guy called Fernando.

  18. William 3 Bronze badge


    How you hate democracy in the UK, but then bow down to dictators like Merkel deciding for the rest of the EU states how they will operate.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Bizzare

      Did you miss the Brexit vote? I believe it did get a little coverage in some of the more obscure news publications.

    2. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Bizzare

      I personally do not hate democracy in the UK - I just do not see it working better than, say, the German one.

      Merkel is not a dictator, but she is only responsible to _her_ electorate. That electorate are not too happy with what they see as endless transfers to countries which do not reform and where people retire on fat pensions at 55, while they had their retirement age increased *). Actually, they were not too convinced about the Euro to start with which is why the rules were set as strict as they were, to get them to accept.

      Here in Portugal, the Euro has forced the government to do some of the reforms that were long overdue anyway. And the local politicians did not take the blame.

      *) I know facts are much more complicated that that, but how do you think the Sun/Mail/whatever would present the situation?

  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Beginners guide to project management. Post project analysis.

    1) Measure conformance of project against stated goals and baseline.

    Baseline. 1/2 of all seats + 17 seats in House of Commons. Absolute majority.


    1/2 of all seats + 80-100 seats in House of Commons. Absolute majority.

    Project conclusion

    1/2 of all seats - 8 seats in House of Commons. Minority.

    Lessons learned.

    "It is not a shambles (which is the mess left after a days work in a slaughter house). It is an internal matter for the Conservative party and does not show any change in the British peoples desire to leave the EU. They voted for a minority government. "

    Thank you J. Rees-Mogg. Once again demonstrating

    a) Denial is not just a river in Egypt and b) Understanding a word <> comprehension of sentence.

    Not forgetting

    c) Conservative MPs don't feel completely humiliated at having to depend on a party 1/32 their size in parliament to stay in power. No. Not at all. Not even a tiny bit. Perfectly OK with it. We have them right where we want them etc.

    I might also point out that IRL a majority or minority party, and wheather it's big enough to form a government is an emergent property of the FPTP system.

    IOW No one votes for a minority govt. They vote (in their constituency) to keep the existing MP in or (if they are smart) vote the runner up to get them out. Anything else is likely to be wasted.

  20. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Keeping IT Simple allows Stupid Rules ZeroDay Air Time

    Angela Merkel wants digital rules

    Rule Nos 1, 2 and 3 ….. Don’t mess with digital rulers.

  21. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Big Brother

    rules to "clamp down" on [certain] content

    yeah, censorship, we know what it is, it sounds all touchy-feely-good when you first start out, then it steamrolls into a steaming pile of fecal matter at some point, becoming *like* "the great firewall" of China.

    gummint just DOES that. it's part of its nature to grow to the point of oppression.

    no thanks. ANARCHY is a better idea. The only requirements *might* be for log-keeping, but even that is pointless in a world where Tor and "the darknet" exists.

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