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Re: EU-DGXIII Action Plan
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: Re: EU-DGXIII Action Plan
- From: Rigo Wenning <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 02 Feb 1998 16:33:29 +0100
- Comment: This message comes from the debate mailing list.
- Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
wenn der Name Nameth auftaucht, dann findet via ihrer Hilfe
auch eine Menge FITUG - Know - How Eingang in den Artikel.
>Date: Thu, 29 Jan 1998 16:24:58 -0500 (EST)
>From: Andy Oram <email@example.com>
>Subject: Re: EU-DGXIII Action Plan
>I thought members of this list might be interested in a short article
>I just wrote for the American Reporter. It's at the American Reporter
>site now (look under "Ideas and Columns" and choose "Free the Net!")
>On Tuesday I'll put the article (along with suitable hypertext links)
>I got some information from Yaman Akdeniz and Louise Nameth for this
>article (although I take responsibility for any mistakes, and all
>The European Plan For The Internet -- Action or Reaction?
>January 27, 1998
>CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- The leaders of the European Union, like many
>people around the world, would like the Internet to be somewhat
>different from what they currently see. While they appreciate the
>Internet's instantaneous transmission of complex information, its
>ability to link many human activities, and its potential for
>supporting cultural diversity, they wish it could just be -- well, a
>little better behaved. Unfortunately, any medium structured for
>maximum participation is going to frustrate such hopes.
>In its effort to make the Internet "a safe environment," the European
>Commission is planning to give millions of euros to fund a recently
>released Action Plan. The plan covers rating systems that can be used
>by various countries to judge what's "harmful and illegal," products
>that block such material, and education to help the public use the
>systems. Least specific is its call for examining the role of laws --
>but look soon for a proliferation of regulations requiring sites to
>rate themselves, or for ISPs to block unrated sites.
>The European Commission knows it has several hurdles to jump. For
>instance, each country has a different idea of what's "illegal." Laws
>against Nazi propaganda and child pornography are common, but the
>variations between one country and another can be surprising even when
>it comes to the question of what's a "child" and what represents
>pornography. The concept of "harmful" varies even more.
>How can these differences be resolved within a single rating system?
>My guess, based on the way PICS and current rating systems work, is
>that the EC-condoned system will provide a few scales (violence,
>nudity, racism, and so on) and that different countries will simply
>pick different points along the scale as the dividing lines between
>the permitted and the prohibited. Such a system is not culturally
>Let me pull back for a moment and admit that we cannot dismiss the
>action plan as a Philistine exercise in repression. Anyone but a rigid
>libertarian can find some practice on the Internet that they feel
>should not be tolerated. For instance, most people writing
>best-selling books or pop songs would be angry to find a Web site that
>offered their material without permission in order to attract
>visitors. Spreading sensitive information on one's medical condition,
>purchases, or reading habits would also repel most of us. Practices
>like these might be called non-consensual behaviors, and
>philosophically the Action Plan is oriented toward stopping them.
>Yet the weight of the plan obviously rests on speech issues such as
>pornography and politics. Other undesirable behaviors can be fought
>through more traditional means, such as suing copyright infringers or
>passing laws against the use of data for purposes other than the ones
>for which the user gave it. The burden remains on the EC to
>demonstrate that special technology or Internet regulation is required
>to preserve public safety.
>The vehicle for carrying out the plan is "self-regulation." This
>means that ISPs agree to follow guidelines such as removing material
>from their servers upon request. The term "self-regulation" is a red
>herring, because the government is still clearly setting the rules. A
>nominally independent national consortium of service providers may
>work out the details in each country, and membership may even be
>But economic and legal pressure to conform to norms is the only force
>that will induce ISPs to take on all this extra effort. Content
>control is the furthest thing from the minds of busy network
>administrators who are consumed 24 hours a day trying to provide
>customers with the fastest and most reliable service possible.
>Meanwhile, the organizations likely to receive EC money are enough
>predisposed toward content control to make Internet defenders
>uneasy. The most likely recipient is INCORE, an organization already
>mandated by the EC to look for ways to remove "harmful and illegal"
>As an example of the types of intervention we can expect to see, one
>member of INCORE is the head of the Internet Watch Foundation. This
>British group reviews complaints from the public and tells Internet
>service providers to remove objectionable material from their
>servers. The person who put up the material is generally not
>consulted, and no court is required to rule on whether the material is
>illegal before it is removed.
>Other members of INCORE include traditional broadcasters. These
>institutions are long accustomed to the palliation of content to make
>it widely acceptable, and to making money by appealing to the lowest
>common denominator among the public. They are not likely to put up a
>fuss when the government asks them to file down all the rough edges on
>Internet content. In fact, one can speculate whether all this fuss
>over "harmful and illegal" content will end up making the Internet
>safe -- for exploitation by television companies.