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Fwd: Even more on that EC censorship conference

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>From: "Michael Sims" <jellicle@inch.com>
>To: fight-censorship@vorlon.mit.edu
>Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 16:33:29 -0400
>Subject: Even more on that EC censorship conference



This is a press release, and as such, is reproduced here in full. 
Smith System Engineering's motto is "Exploiting Advanced
Technology".  Read the following, and see if you find that motto as
funny as I did.


European Parliament appoints Smith System Engineering to advise on
control of pornography and racism on the Internet

13 February 1997
Ref: OV603.4D050/1.0

Independent UK consultant, Smith System Engineering, has won a
contract from the European Parliament to study the technical
feasibility of jamming or censoring pornography and racism on the
Internet and related systems. 

Smith was chosen from a number of competitors because of its track
record in multi-disciplinary policy studies and its expertise in all
aspects of informatics, particularly information security and the
Internet. It will work on the project in conjunction with legal and
social policy experts. The results of the study will act as a key
briefing document for Members of the European Parliament and, as
such, is likely to influence eventual policy.

The potential for beneficial applications of the Internet is widely
recognised. However, concerns have been raised that abuse of the
Internet to promote socially undesirable activities may be a
significant issue. For example, a study based upon one sample of
Internet activity at a European search engine indicated that 47% of
queries were related to pornographic material. Such concerns are
topical at present because of the recent high profile cases of
Internet abuse by paedophiles.

Smith's six-month project will examine all aspects of the current
situation, including the methods by which offensive material is
currently distributed. It will also study technical methods currently
available, or in development, which may assist in blocking the flow
of pornographic or racist information. In addition, those who manage
the Internet, including content, service and access providers, telcos
and users, will be under scrutiny. The report will assess the
feasibility of defining new duties for these groups that might be
implemented, either voluntarily or by means of legislation, in order
to prevent misuse of the service.

The study will be headed by Smith's project manager, Alan Pitman. He
is in no doubt as to its complexity and significance. "The passing of
pornographic and racist material over the Internet has been
recognised as a serious social issue by all countries within the EU."

"The problem is complex because of the size and exponential growth of
the Internet, how simple it is to access and the difficulty in
tracing those responsible. It is also worrying that current controls
can apparently be bypassed with speed and ease. However, I am
confident that this project will help clarify the feasibility of
options for future action. By examining all possible controls on
input, storage, transmission and access of data - including their
effects on social, civil liberty and commercial issues - I believe we
will come up with a comprehensive guide to practical issues and


-- Michael Sims

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