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[FYI] (Fwd) EU Action Plan adopted

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Tue, 22 Dec 1998 17:49:34 GMT0BST
From:          "Yaman Akdeniz" <lawya@lucs-01.novell.leeds.ac.uk>
Subject:       EU Action Plan adopted
To:            gilc-plan@privacy.org
Reply-to:      gilc-plan@gilc.org


Action plan on promoting safer use of the Internet 

21 December 1998

The European Union adopts Action Plan on Promoting Safer Use of the

The 21 December 1998 the Council of the European Union approved in
second reading an Action Plan on promoting safer use of the Internet
by combating illegal and harmful content on global networks. This is
the final adoption of a European Commission proposal for a number of
initiatives from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 2002 with a total
budget of  25 million. The initiatives, created in close co-operation
with industry, Member States and users, include a network of
hot-lines, support for self-regulation, developing technical measures
and awareness initiatives.

The Internet is revolutionising a number of economic sectors and is
becoming a powerful element in social, educational and cultural
fields.  Never before has such vast amounts of information and
services been available to the citizens. New forms of communication
are developing and participation in interest groups is made available
to everyone.

The aim of the Action Plan is to ensure implementation of the various
European Union initiatives on how to deal with undesirable content on
the Internet. The proposal is a financial plan designed to support
non-regulatory initiatives for promoting safer use of the Internet. It
is important to emphasise that the vast majority of Internet content
poses absolutely no problem. However, since the Internet can,
nevertheless, be used for distribution of illegal and harmful content,
these issues must be addressed if the consumers and industry of Europe
are to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the
Information society. More in particular, parents and teachers are
concerned by the availability of content, which could be harmful for

The Action Plan is specifically aimed at actions where financial
support from the Community is necessary. It is written in co-operation
with users, the Internet industry and Member States' governments and
builds on political consensus within the Union. The objectives of the
plan are to:

Incite the actors (industry, users) to develop and implement adequate
systems of self-regulation; strengthen developments by supporting
demonstrations and stimulating application of technical solutions;
alert and inform parents an teachers, in particular through their
relevant associations; foster co-operation and exchange of experiences
and best practices; promote co-ordination across Europe and between
actors concerned; ensure compatibility between the approach taken in
Europe and elsewhere. 

The Action Plan sets forth a number of measures in four action lines: 

1.	Creating a safe environment (through industry self-regulation) 

Acknowledging the important work that has been taken by the European
Internet industry in this respect, the Commission will build on
existing hot-line initiatives and encourage further initiatives on
self-regulation and Codes of Conduct. Hot-lines have proved to be an
efficient tool to gather information on illegal content. Information
gathered through the hot-lines will be of vital importance to prevent
that content considered illegal under current law, shall be allowed to
flourish on international networks. The Global nature of the Internet
however, requires these initiatives to be pan-European and indeed
international. Action will be taken to establish networks of hot-lines
and improve liaison with law enforcement.  Implementation of Codes of
Conduct will be supported along the lines of the 24 September 1998
Recommendation on the protection of minors and human dignity.1 In
connection with the Codes of conduct a system of visible quality
labels will be promoted.

2.	Developing filtering and rating systems

Various means of filtering and rating will be thoroughly examined in a
European context, aiming at providing users with a palette of
different tools to protect themselves and their families against
undesirable material.  The action line will be putting its focus on
validation of rating systems in relation to European content
providers, integration of rating into the content creation process,
benefits of these technical solutions and provision of third party
rating systems. Again, for solutions to be effective, initiatives will
be taken to facilitate international agreement on rating systems. 

3.	Encouraging awareness actions

Closely linked with the other action lines, this action line will
prepare the ground for awareness actions to be carried out by the
Member States.  The actions will be identifying multiplier bodies and
most appropriate channels, media and content to reach the target
audience, preparing basic material, and adapt it for linguistic and
cultural specificities. The encouragement of full-scale awareness
actions will be made through a call for proposals for follow-up action
by the Member States. 

4.	Support actions

As no single measure in it self will be sufficient to improve the
users possibility to protect themselves and to achieve the objectives
of the plan, additional action will be taken to evaluate the impact of
Community measures, to asses legal implications and co-ordinate with
similar international initiatives. 

Co-ordination with other initiatives

Actions will be closely co-ordinated with the 24 September 1998
Council Recommendation and the promotion of common guidelines for the
implementation, at national level, of a self-regulation framework for
the protection of minors and human dignity in audio-visual and on-line
information services. 

The Action Plan will be implemented in consultation with the Internet
industry, users and Member States. Contacts with multinational bodies,
will be continued to make international efforts coherent. The use of
existing networks established under other programs will be promoted to
disseminate information about technical legal and other solutions.

() OJ L 98/560/EC Official Journal L 270 of 07.10.1998, p.48 

Yaman Akdeniz <lawya@leeds.ac.uk>
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) at: http://www.cyber-rights.org

Read the new CR&CL (UK) Report, Who Watches the Watchmen, Part:II
Accountability & Effective Self-Regulation in the Information Age,
August 1998 at http://www.cyber-rights.org/watchmen-ii.htm