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EU: avoid "safe havens", make remailers traceable


   Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic
   and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

Table of Contents with some excerpts (full text at

1. The opportunities of the Internet
2. How does the Internet work?
3. Illegal and harmful content on Internet

            It is crucial to differentiate between content which is
            illegal and other harmful content:

 A. Illegal content

            Protection of the public order (child pornography, racist
            hatred, terrorism, fraud), and rights of individuals
            (breach of copyright, libel, invasion of privacy or
            unlawful comparative advertising)

 B. Harmful content

            Material may offend the values and feelings; depends on
            cultural differences.

4. Identifying and combating illegal content on Internet

 A. Technical limits to law enforcement

            Control can really only occur at the entry and exit points
            to the Network. Thus additional international co-operation
            is required to avoid "safe havens" for documents contrary
            to general rules of criminal law.

 B. The role of Internet access providers and host service providers

   i) Legal responsibilities
  ii) Self-regulation
 iii) Removal of files from the servers
  iv) Blocking access at the level of access providers

            Singaporean model is inconceivable for Europe as it would
            severley interfere with the freedom of the individual.
            Practical feasibility remains open to question.

            An approach which involes requiring access providers to
            block access to illegal content on a case-by-case basis
            has been followed recently by law enforcement authorities
            in Germany. A number of anti-blocking tactics were also
            immediately put in place. At the latest count, the
            document is mirrored on 43 WWW sites and 2 newsgroups and
            is available from an e-mail listserver. Upstream blocking
            of sites may therefore present a number of significant
            shortcomings. It may not prevent, in particular, criminal
            users from "hopping" from one Internet mode to the other,
            i.e. from a Web page, to a Usenet newsgroup, to standard

 C. Anonymous use of the Internet

            Users of the Internet are normally identified. This is
            desirable in accordance with the democratic principle that
            individuals, while free to express their thoughts and
            beliefs, should nevertheless be accountable for their

            Law enforcement authorities have expressed concern at
            various techniques which allow anonymous use of the
            Internet. This may facilitate sending illegal content by
            making it difficult or impossible to identify the
            offender. The legitimate need for anonymity should be
            reconciled with the principles of legal traceability. The
            Safety Net proposals take the view that use of truly
            anonymous accounts is a danger, while use of traceable
            pseudonyms is not. They propose measures to close known
            loopholes and improve traceability and that anonymous
            remailers record details of identity. These details would
            be subject to data protection legislation. The question of
            legal traceability needs work both on technical issues
            and on global co-operation in order for measures to be

 D. Judicial and police co-operation at EU and international level

5. Dealing with harmful content on Internet

 A. The principle of freedom of expression

            The right to freedom of expression, as affirmed by the
            European Convention on Human Rights, can be subject to
            some conditions, is not absolute and subject to important
            qualifications, for instance permitting licensing of
            broadcasting or cinema enterprises. 

            Any regulatory action intended to protect minors should
            not take the form of an unconditional prohibition of using
            the Internet to distribute certain content that is
            available freely in other media. 

 B. The legal framework of the Internet market

            The measures must be appropriate to achieve the pursued
            objective and may not exceed what is necessary to achieve
            their aim.

 C. Parental control software: empowering parents to protect minors

            Useful as a "line of defence" at the end-user level,
            filtering software can also be applied at various
            stages in the transmission process, for example by
            host service providers or access providers.

 D. PICS: a global industry standard
 E. The extent to which filtering can be used
 F. European rating systems
 G. Educating the public

6. Policy options/conclusions
 1. Illegal content
    a) Co-operation between Member States
    b) Liability of access providers and host service providers

            Need for a common European framework to clarify the
            administrative rules and regulations which apply to access

    c) Encourage self-regulation
 2. Harmful content

            Encourage the use of filtering software such as PICS.

    a) An International Conference

            At the Industry Council of 8 October 1996, the invitation
            by Germany to host an International Conference was
            accepted. This will involve representatives of
            law-enforcement authorities, together with representatives
            of providers and users: Discussion on the possibility of an
            international convention on illegal and harmful content.
    b) Extension of the dialogue

 4. Support actions
   a) Transparency mechanism
   b) Information Web site