Official EU Agencies Falsely Report More Than 550 Archive.org URLs as Terrorist Content

CORRECTION: This post previously identified the sender of the 550 falsely identified URLs as Europol’s EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU). The sender was in fact, the French national Internet Referral Unit, using Europol’s application, which sends the email from an @europol.europa.eu address. The EU IRU has informed us that it is not involved in the national IRUs’ assessment criteria of terrorist content.

The European Parliament is set to vote on legislation that would require websites that host user-generated content to take down material reported as terrorist content within one hour. We have some examples of current notices sent to the Internet Archive that we think illustrate very well why this requirement would be harmful to the free sharing of information and freedom of speech that the European Union pledges to safeguard.

In the past week, the Internet Archive has received a series of email notices from French Internet Referral Unit (French IRU) falsely identifying hundreds of URLs on archive.org as “terrorist propaganda”. At least one of these mistaken URLs was also identified as terrorist content in a separate take down notice sent under the authority of the French government’s L’Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalité liée aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC).

The one-hour requirement essentially means that we would need to take reported URLs down automatically and do our best to review them after the fact.

It would be bad enough if the mistaken URLs in these examples were for a set of relatively obscure items on our site, but the French IRU’s lists include some of the most visited pages on archive.org and materials that obviously have high scholarly and research value. See a summary below with specific examples.

French IRU’s mistaken notices:

At least 550 archive.org URLs were falsely identified by the French IRU in the past week as terrorist propaganda, including:

Again, these examples are only a few of the some 550 falsely identified URLs. The erroneous reports continue to be sent to us by the French IRU (the most recent example was sent a day prior to this post).

French OCLCTIC mistaken notice:

The OCLCTIC emailed us a take down notice a few days ago (April 8th) identifying an item making commentary on the Quran as including “provocation of acts of terrorism or apology for such acts”:

https://archive.org/details/002Baqarah_201712

The report stated that blocking procedures may be implemented against us if we did not remove the content in 24 hours. This URL was also on one of the lists that the French IRU reported to us.

Thus, we are left to ask – how can the proposed legislation realistically be said to honor freedom of speech if these are the types of reports that are currently coming from EU law enforcement and designated governmental reporting entities? It is not possible for us to process these reports using human review within a very limited timeframe like one hour. Are we to simply take what’s reported as “terrorism” at face value and risk the automatic removal of things like THE primary collection page for all books on archive.org?

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78 Responses to Official EU Agencies Falsely Report More Than 550 Archive.org URLs as Terrorist Content

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  10. And here we all were led to believe that “the right to be forgotten” only really applies to those who can afford intimidation, such as Theresa May’s heritage. Even if these were truly terror-driven portals, such white-washing of black mirrors by erasing anything failing to meet subjective definitions of normalcy, only leads to further ignorance. Limiting ideas limits our means to express, certainly, but it also limits what we might learn from and thus evolve beyond. Should we manifest sanctioned echo chambers or safe spaces or news bubbles or any other variety of gated community, we would by design be blocking out the greater portion of reality, including a substantial amount of truth in the doing.

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  12. آهنگ says:

    Thanks for this post
    great

  13. Blake Stacey says:

    They sent a takedown notice for content mirrored from the arXiv? Are they really trying to declare all of mathematics, physics and computer science to be “terrorist content”?

  14. Chris Richards says:

    the real losers here are the citizens of the European Union countries… I would not take down any of that non-sense. The laws of the EU do not apply in the United States, and with lack of jurisdiction, you have no legal requirement to remove anything. I would send all their requests to /dev/null or send a canned auto-response telling them that the laws of their country lack jurisdiction and are being ignored.

    • Josh says:

      Chris, I’m glad that you’re far from this problem in your comfy chair in San Diego; but the clash between archive.org and EU may lead to european ISPs forced to block archive.org (not on dns but on ip level). And if more people start omitting this using vpn, they will elaborate next steps, like retarded UK laws banning encryption.

      • Ben says:

        VPNs are a thing. It’s much better that EU citizens be forced to use a VPN than the whole world losing access to the resource because of one bloc’s bullying. I am an American citizen and I did not have the opportunity to vote for any EU leaders. Their whims should not affect my internet browsing, and they should not be able to decide what I’m allowed to access.

        • Tom says:

          ‘I am an American citizen and I did not have the opportunity to vote for any EU leaders.’
          You misunderstand the EU if you think being an american citizen makes any difference as to whether you can vote for them or not

  15. anon says:

    Have you complied with any EU-issued censorship demands in the past? If so, what criteria do you use to decide whether a request is legitimate?

    • Jason says:

      Good question! I’d like to know this, too. Methinks the decentralized web is going to be critical to protecting the Archive from censors, both internal and external.

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  20. eurosubject says:

    Please remember, free speech does not exist in European Soviet Union.
    Better set up geoblocking for EU IP-ranges, that will be cheaper than hiring night shift admins.

    • Scwnsjegjnf UK NBC venenv says:

      Thats the only way to do it right. I will use a vpn then and all the people dont care can still use fb etc. Untlill the eu decites tor/vpn are illegal (its the next thing they want to do).

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  22. acab says:

    mistaken? lol, I do not think so, just som uch stupidity and something in the back trying to fuck archive.org, you will see…

  23. آهنگ says:

    Thanks for this post
    great

  24. Nemo says:

    I’m sure this is not connected at all to the recent attempt by certain billionaire publishers in the EU to shut down Internet Archive scanning efforts.

  25. kravietz says:

    Most people commenting here seem to be completely missing the point. Security agencies in all countries do send such notices based on the existing laws, in this case French, all the time. These laws exist and existed long before any EU regulations and their main problem is that they operate based on unclear, local interpretations of criminal content, which leads to automation and silly mistakes such as those described above. The proposed EU regulation will actually bring some common sense and order here as it not only provides a precise definition of “terrorist content” in Article 2(5), which the above articles obviously do NOT satisfy, but also provides numerous safeguards against unjustified requests in Articles 9, 10 and 11.

    • First Amender says:

      This seems like wishful thinking. No matter what the exact definition of “terrorist content” is, it will remain ambiguous to some degree. Unless there are penalties for false takedowns all parties involved will err on the side of taking things down instead of keeping them up. Automated systems will continue to be used because they are far cheaper and even if they are obviously wrong there is no negative impact on the parties (both, takedown submitters and websites) using them.

      • kravietz says:

        Possibly it’s wishful thinking, but it’s a wish for a better regulation. Currently we have 31 regulations in the EU, often contradictory, vague or missing appeal process. The Regulation replaces it with a single law that ensures carefully weighted balance between the interests of freedom of speech and law enforcement by having a clear definition of what *can* be blocked at all, appeal procedure, transparency reports and frequent highlights on “proportionality” of the solution.

  26. Jolia says:

    thanks for sharing

  27. Swiss Guy says:

    I would do the following:
    Geoblock content reported by EU (or other) agencies for the affected countries and add a notice why this happened.
    People in the EU and other parts of the world need to open their eyes but a “normal” person usually does not see how deep the newly legislation grab into our freedom. But as long as nobody really tells them or if they don’t see the effects, this will never happen.

    But please exclude Switzerland from this – we are not EU 🙂

  28. That’s really a nice one..!

  29. Henry Massingale says:

    Censorship by the EU, is a part of the UN Global Compact, the IFPI along with the UN, has established more copyright laws.
    There is no doubt some Islamic Terrorist have been posting their hate speech here against America. The network team has collected their videos, from here, this site.
    You the Internet Archive Administration is being censored not just because of Islam, but also because of Christian far left concepts.
    The EU voted to copyright all images, video music, movies. The EU along with the IFPI threatened YouTube.
    The IFPI past scams I personally exposed them. You see I can create better music movies trailers then the elite can. So the IFPI attacked my work, because I stand against the UN. In other words, I can not voice a opinion against the EU or UN and create Music Movie Trailers at the same time, and when I pointed this out to the IFPI, that the same videos are still posted at YouTube, the IFPI stood silent. It became apparent that American Establishments such as the Internet Archive is being attacked to be governed under the EU Laws.
    Now the Internet Archive deleted one of my videos which did not violate any rules at all. Or was it because I flagged several videos here post Islamic hate and child porn?
    Have a nice day.

  30. Arshia says:

    Nice sharing, Thanks.

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  40. First Amender says:

    This is completely crazy. The scholarly articles are:
    “Spectrum Sharing in Cognitive Radio with Quantized Channel Information” (https://archive.org/details/arxiv-1006.0619)
    “Split ejaculation study: semen parameters and calcium and magnesium in seminal plasma.” (https://archive.org/details/pubmed-PMC3921810)
    Clearly no human at Europol has reviewed these before submitting them as “terrorist propaganda”. Why would it fall to the Internet Archive or any other website to do that work for them.

    For the first article some automated system seems to have detected the abbreviation AQPA which is used for “approximate quantized power allocation” but has been detected as “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”, an UN designated terrorist organization. A single four letter word made an entirely unrelated document “terrorist propaganda”. Why the American Quarter Pony Association’s website at aqpa.com is allowed to remain online is a mystery!

    Does the Internet Archive publish all the takedown requests received by law enforcement agencies? It would be helpful to have all of these public if they come from official government sources, along with whether individual items have been removed.

  41. Pingback: Archive.org hit with hundreds of false terrorist content notices from EU – TECH WRITA

  42. raj says:

    Did you issue an official letter to EU IRU and to French agency demanding an explanation, WHY (on what basis) these particular URLs were claimed as “terrorist content” while they clearly are not?
    I think you should do it. Send an official request, in writing, and demand that they explain why they requested to remove these URLs.

    BTW. I very much appreciate the great work archive.org is doing. Keep going!

    • Shaun says:

      I’d actually very much like to see this.

      Under the current proposed instrument, the template for such would be Annex III of https://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:dc0b5b0f-b65f-11e8-99ee-01aa75ed71a1.0001.02/DOC_2&format=PDF (Information on the impossibility to execute the removal order). It sounds very much like all of force majeure, manifest errors and “does not contain sufficient information” would apply at the very least.

      I did notice with interest that the proposed instrument actually warns against automatic removals, recognising their need to be balanced against “fundamental freedoms”. So it sounds like they do very much expect you to be evaluating these at 3am. Manually. Within an hour. Chop chop!

      (This comment should be read with the humour intended. I’ll save the dry version for a letter to my MEPs!)

      • kravietz says:

        Note that the current proposal includes two types of notifications: removal order and referrals. What Archive.org received is an referral apparently. The former will be mandatory but only issued for content where a court order exists, while the latter sent to hosting providers to check for *possible* illegal content on “best effort” basis.

        Recital (9) also contains the following statement:

        “Content disseminated for educational, journalistic or research purposes should be adequately protected. Furthermore, the expression of radical, polemic or controversial views in the public debate on sensitive political questions should not be considered terrorist content”

        There are further sections 2.4 Proportionality and 3.3 Fundamental rights that discuss the protection of rights of users and hosting providers in details.

        Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/soteu2018-preventing-terrorist-content-online-regulation-640_en.pdf

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  45. Reziac says:

    The correct response is not to cave to their terrorist demands to take down anything that pains Islam or the New German Empire. The correct response is to block Europe.

  46. This seems like wishful thinking. No matter what the exact definition of “terrorist content” is, it will remain ambiguous to some degree. Unless there are penalties for false takedowns all parties involved will err on the side of taking things down instead of keeping them up. Automated systems will continue to be used because they are far cheaper and even if they are obviously wrong there is no negative impact on the parties (both, takedown submitters and websites) using them.

  47. آهنگ says:

    thanks for sharing

  48. kaczor_wuj_pije_gnuj says:

    In such situations, we all, researchers, journalists, and casual readers, are terrorists. If this is a new name, why not?

  49. Expulsionista forever says:

    Europol will be entered in my blacklist. I warned it.

  50. luke says:

    My advice is this: ignore ALL demands from France and the EU as you would ignore demands from China or Saudi Arabia. Let them block, we have Tor. Remember that as Archive is not supported by ads, the “busienss presence” issue of serving local ads does not exist, and even the US as bad as it is won’t extradict for violations of laws that do not also exist in the US, especially when those laws would be unconstitutional here.

    Extradition between nations as a matter of international law is restricted to violations of laws that exist in both the source and receiving country. This is why Saudi Arabia can do nothing about it when the US won’t extradict a Saudi fugitive for violating male guardianship laws or “blasphemy” laws.

    NO cooperation, NO compromise with this sort of shit! If I wanted to post to a “complying” website I would have an account on Youtube.

  51. luke says:

    No need to block Europe, let them do the blocking themselves! In the future, as a patchwork of censorship laws spreads, every website will have to choose one and only one country to have all of their assets, all of their people, and all of their “business presence” in so they can ignore the laws of all other nations. Nothing else will be possible due to mutually conflicting laws. All international access to all sites will be over Tor.

    You WILL need to offer .onion access, as Tor is going to face both exploding traffic and Tor use bans whose main effect will be to shut down exit nodes in places like Germany. ISP’s and nations won’t be able to stop tor-to-tor .onion communication, but the remaining exit nodes will choke on the volume.

    Lastly, let’s remember that the “extremist content” government officials are REALLY worried about is not right-wing hate, alt-right, white supremacist shit that gets the common people killed. NO! This is but the excuse they have been waiting for to get the tools to take down progressive content targetting major corporations for things like funding climate change. What worried an Exxon-funded member of any Congress or Parliament more-a post encouraging fascists to kill SOMEBODY ELSE, or a post encouraging peaceful protesters to hold a peaceful candlelight vigil outside HIS OWN HOUSE for all the plants and animals killed by his number one campaign cash pimp?

  52. Beth I says:

    Head’s up: C-SPAN content is NOT produced by the US government. C-SPAN is a nonprofit supported by the cable/satellite industry.

  53. Künstler says:

    Please make archive.org availible in the tor network, to make it easier for people that live in regions with strong censorship to acccess your websites !

  54. Filipescu Mircea Alexandru says:

    Everyone please take note and do not forget: This is only one part of a coordinated global attack against the open internet, started in late 2016. It’s not just Europe! The following events have all happened at once:

    – America passed SESTA / FOSTA and killed Net Neutrality
    – Britain created the Digital Economy Bill (the war on porn)
    – Australia created a bill attacking secure software and strong encryption
    – Canada proposed an internet tax as well as its own version of SOPA / PIPA
    – Europe created the Copyright Directive and now the Terrorist Regulation
    – Russia banned Tor and VPN

    In 30 years since the internet existed, it has never been attacked this way… the only exception being ACTA (1) and SOPA / PIPA in the US back in 2012. All those proposals were introduced in 2016 – 2017 and coordinated together ever since. Such coincidences do not exist: Governments worldwide orchestrated this… and I’d say they did it with military grade precision.

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  56. jaundice says:

    I don’t understand. Why does an American based organization have to do what the a European country asks?

    • luke says:

      They DON’T-they can tell the EU to fuck off and remind European users to stay in touch over Tor to pierce the resulting blocks

  57. Dirk says:

    Send them a bill for every fake takedown notice. Since they give you an hour to take them down, bill them an hour of work if you have to spend the time and it’s not a valid request.
    Either they stop doing their stupid automated crap, or you get a free fundraiser out of it 🙂
    (yes I know they’ll ignore the mails, but still)

  58. Ray Meer says:

    The amount of nationalistic comments on this is much more worrying me than the content itself.

    There is no country in the world that is not trying to regulate information.

  59. آهنگ says:

    Great post
    Europol will be entered in my blacklist

  60. kravietz says:

    I have sent request to Europol to clarify and their response is cited below in full. As I understand it, the requests received by Archive.org were NOT originating from Europol but rather from French authorities who merely use Europol’s infrastructure. With the contested Regulation in force, the French would NOT be allowed to even send this nonense as it is not compliant with Article 4 or 5 of the Regulation, and if they did, any EU content provider would have right to refuse their implementation. This only highlights why the Regulation is needed to clean up the mess currently introduced by member states and is another clear example of the national governments in EU doing something stupid and then blaming EU for it.

    Dear Pawel,

    All 25 URLs mentioned in the blog have been referred to Internet Archive by the French IRU Unit, not by Europol, using the EU IRU’s Internet Referral Management Application (IRMa) in April 2019.
    EU Member States users are using dedicated email addresses via IRMA to channel their referrals. Hosting Service Providers have been informed that even though the emails are sent from Europol’s domain, the content is assessed and referred by the relevant Member State.
    Member States are also requested to add their signature to the emails to make clear the referrals come from them and not from the EU IRU.

    The EU IRU always ensures that there is human review of content before the latter is referred to HSPs for their own review.
    The review process in the EU IRU satisfies the characteristics described in the EU Directive 2017/541.

    I hope this clarifies,
    Tine Hollevoet
    Europol Press Office

  61. John Poyner says:

    The Grateful Dead is on the list?! for crying out loud, folks can talk politics, religion, commerce, & tech all day about this & no it won’t make sense. Fight the EU all the way, don’t give up, trust the decentralized free web & the archive, we have more than a few surprises for the EU.

  62. آهنگ says:

    The correct response is not to cave to their terrorist demands to take down anything that pains Islam or the New German Empire. The correct response is to block Europe.

  63. Dsong says:

    Great post
    Europol will be entered in my blacklist
    archive.org is best

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