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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: UN summit in Paris next week on Internet taxing & re

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Wed, 24 Nov 1999 13:06:36 -0500
To:             	politech@vorlon.mit.edu
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject:        	FC: UN summit in Paris next week on Internet taxing & regulation
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com

[This UNESCO confab would be hysterical if the folks weren't actually
serious. Read on for excerpts.]


                     World Tackles Web Regulation 
                     by Declan McCullagh 

                     9:45 a.m. 24.Nov.1999 PST 
                     Every government official worth his
                     pension plan seems to have his own plans
                     for Internet regulation these days. 

                     Nigeria wants a "Marshall Plan" where tax
                     money from wealthy countries would wire
                     Africa. The Netherlands wants to limit
                     "commercial influences" on the Net, and
                     Singapore hopes to convince everyone to
                     follow its lead in restricting erotica online.

                     To try to find a common ground,
                     governments from around the world will
                     debate the best way to approach
                     Internet regulations at a United Nations
                     summit next week in Paris. 

                     A major theme of the "Internet and New
                     Services" two-day summit of regulators,
                     hosted by the United Nations Educational,
                     Scientific, and Cultural Organization, is
                     whether government pressure on the
                     computer industry is sufficient -- or
                     whether more formal regulations are



World Summit of Regulators "Internet and the New Services" 
            (Paris, UNESCO, 30 Nov.- 1 Dec. 1999) 


The CSA forwarded to all the independent communication regulation
authorities which they knew existed in the world a first preparatory
note at the beginning of 1999, outlining the reflection themes
envisaged and the main sets of problems identified, in order to
collect as many contributions as possible from the regulators in
charge of the audio-visual or both the audio-visual and
telecommunications on the five continents. [...]

   According to the OFCOM again, as far as the Web sites are open to
   the public, which is potentially large, or even very large, and as
   far as this sites actually offer limites possibilities of
   interactivity, ' the
   up of licences, concessions, and the registrating of the services
   concerned have to be entrusted to a public authority, which doesn't
   exclude that private bodies can play an important role for the
   autoregulation. [...]

   3- The reflection on internet regulation must be carried
   out at international level but also at the same time at
   national level 

   Another result of the consultation by the CSA is that of the
   extreme variety of the tolerance thresholds from one country to
   another as to the application of freedom of expression, whether
   regarding, among other examples available, the refusal to display
   nudity or that of racist remarks. Unsurprisingly, it is therefore
   not very reasonable, in fact not very desirable for some, to expect
   the advent of a world conception of freedom of expression to
   regulate content.  [...]

   'The Internet is international, and even if
   there is regulation, it will be easy to avoid it by setting up in
   which do not take part in such regulation or by transmitting from
   such states'. (Norway). 

   Several contributions however mention the need to find an
   international framework suited to an awareness of the challenges of
   the internet, going beyond the commercial or economic challenges
   only, and taking into account the social, cultural and political
   dimension of the changes caused by the existence and the use of the
   internet (points mentioned a regular conference of the regulators
   on the internet, to compare points of view, or a world conference
   on the information society, organised by UNESCO…). 

   ' Given the borderless nature of the Internet', the SBA (Singapore)
   is of the view that ' there is a need for more international dialog
   and cooperation in tackling the problems mentioned in the CSA
   report while we can each attempt to regulate the content providers
   within our national boundaries, ther is a need to get together and
   develop a common global framework which can help make the Internet
   a safer place for our citizens. The World Summit provides an
   excellent platform for global dialog and sharing of ideas to take

   §-2 Ways are thus open at a European level, and in all the
   international negotiation bodies G8, IUT, OMPI, OMC, UN,
   UNESCO, etc. Police and legal co-operations and specialisations at
   an international level are also obviously essential. But 'new forms
   of regulation' must be invented say the Norwegians [...]

   At a third level, the labelling of the sites is envisaged. For the
   moment, only the more advanced countries seem to set up reflection
   groups for labelling sites (Australia, Canada, Recommendation by
   the European Commission).  [...]

   At a fifth level, there are plans to design, country by country, or
   on a multi-national scale, filtering software packages intended for
   the end user or for the technical suppliers. [...]

   Beyond the adaptation of the penal code for what concerns the
   illegal content on Internet (including the possibility of punishing
   the expression of revisionism on the net) the german laws about the
   information and communication services foresee, in teir second
   part, the realization, entrusted to the Federal Office for
   Verification of writings threatening
   minors, of an Index which would register the injurious contents
   that are not forbidden. Once they are indexed, these contents can
   only be broadcasted if technical devices are settled in order to
   prevent minors to read them. The third part of the law concerns the
   prejudicial contents
    the services suppliers whose offers contain contents which
   the minors are compelled to chose representatives who must protect
   the minors. [...]

   The way Singapore has chosen is quite original  "Internet service
   providers (ISPs) ans Internet Content providers (ICPs) are
   automatically licensed and they are given a set of broad guidelines
   that provides a clear idea of what their responsibilities are. This
   approach creates greater transparency and makes it easier for the
   industry to operate and grow. ISPs are not required to monitor the
   Internet or its users and they only need to limit public access to
   hundred mass impact pornographic sites identified by SBA. Primary
   responsability for contents lies with the Internet content
   providers who are required to comply with the Internet code of
   practice which outlines some broad markers of what the community
   regards as offensive and harmful to Singapore' s racial and
   religious harmony and public morals.' In order to complete this
   regulation framework, the SBA encourages and promotes actively the
   auto-regulation of industry and public education. 

   But rather than accepting the American software packages available
   on the market, several countries hope to produce national filtering
   software, or software specific to a particular type of public, more
   suitable to the national contexts, cultures and morals (Australia,
   Singapore) or regional contexts, cultures and morals (European
   INCORE project). In September 1996, seven member countries of the
   Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Singapore,
   Viet-Nam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand)
   decided to collectively regulate communications on the internet in
   order in particular to prevent pornography. 

   At a sixth level, the responsibility of the technical suppliers is
   envisaged in various ways. The trend seems to be removal of the
   responsibility of technical suppliers but with exceptions. It is
   true that the risks of de-locating accommodating services are quite
   actual. In most countries, neither the legislators nor the judges
   have either drawn up or clarified a position on this complex legal
   problem. Still, the Gabonese CNC, like many others, 'shares the
   CSA's reflexions about the necessity to name a responsible person
   for edition in the audiovisual services on Internet. [...]

   6- The radio-TV Right must be adapted every where in the
   world to the technological new deal 

   In addition to the indispensable respect for the 'major principles'
   already quoted (defence and promotion of the cultural values and
   contents, pluralism…) the answers the CSA has received justify in a
   recurrent way the presence of the Right and of the audiovisual
   regulatory authorities in the debate about the Internet Regulation,
   at least at three levels  first, because Internet certainly
   concerns the future of Radio and TV, even if, as it has been seen,
   there is no matter of urgency and even if the concrete mode of this
   coming hybridization his still hardly known ; second, because some
   services conveyed by the Internet Protocol also may be soon
   assimilated to the Mass Media ; lastly, because the right of
   audiovisual or broadcasting (which depends on the country) seems to
   be the best ground for any attempt to adapt a legal frame for the
   communication towards the public through Internet.

   §-1. The relevance of the right of audiovisual or broadcasting in
   the development of Internet is obvious fot what concerns the
   publications on the Web (ie the communication towards the public
   through the Internet Protocol). 

   First, many contributions approve the idea of not defining the
   audiovisual or broadcasting communication services through their
   infrastructure or their technical support. In most of the
   countries, the criterion which determines the audiovisual
   communication is because of its social dimension, the public, or
   the differentiated addressee. [...]

   For the
   Netherlands Regulation Authority again, ' it is also of importance
   that the information is not subject to commercial influences. The
   freedom an individual is supposed to have when using a databank on
   the Internet is actually rather relative. The provider of the data
   service may quite easily guide the user of that service in a
   certain (commercial) direction. In that case, the viewers have to
   be able to rely on the fact that the information offered by the
   broadcasters on the Internet, is objective. In the same way than
   the Internet editors ans others professionally involved with the
   broadcasters' sites have to be sure that they can gather, compose,
   and present information in all editorial independance. Therefore,
   we feel that it would make sense to impose the strict division
   between editorial and commercial on all services of the
   broadcasters on the Internet that are aimed at the general public.'

   As a matter of fact, the debate concerns everywhere the range of
   the restrictions that could be envisaged  for instance, is it
   necessary to impose the respect for the forbidden fields of
   advertising (alcohol, tobacco…) in the audiovisual programmes
   broadcasted on Internet ? Netherlands explains that  ' Certain
   basic principles of the broadcasters have to be transferred on the
   Internet, as for instance the distinctive character of the public
   broadcasting organisations, the distinction between editorial and
   commercial and the protection of minors. On the Internet to, the
   public broadcasters should distinguish themselves from commercial
   providers by the non commercial character of the information
   offered. It should be perfectly clear, on the Web, wether services
   are being sponsored. Illicit advertising and advertising for
   tobacco and cigarets should also be prohibited on the Internet. 

   §5. For these new intermediary media services, there are
   nevertheless some demands  identification of a responsible person
   for the edition, right to reply, minor welfare, elementary
   restrictions about advertising and honesty of information… [...]

   Without sacrificing to the traditional prophecies surrounding the
   internet 'miracle', sometimes alarmist, at other times idealist,
   the duty of the leaders of all countries consists in serenely
   setting out the realistic prospects of this new tool. From then
   onwards, it is particularly necessary not to deny, without however
   exaggerating them, the threats of increasing inequalities that the
   internet supports.  [...]

   3- The solutions envisaged by the various contributions
   economic and technological aid and the promotion of the
   public domain on the internet 

   §-1. Economic North-South aid. It is most often the case for the
   developing country bodies to apply to the developed countries for
   an economic aid enabling the Southern countries, today mostly
   excluded, to contribute too to the world wide web and to benefit
   from it. According to the terms of a Nigerian delegate to the
   RIARC, what is needed is a 'Marshall plan' for the internet in

   It is therefore
   important that the regulators weigh up their responsibilities in
   this field and take a stand on the questions of access (public
   domain, free access to the services of general interest, taxation
   of the local communications devoted to internet… ).  [...]

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