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E-commerce directive transposition raises serious privacy and free speech concerns in France

12 February, 2003
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France has started the process of implementing the European Directive on Electronic Commerce. The draft text of the Digital Economy Law ("Loi relative à l'économie numérique" or LEN in French) deals with ISP liability, electronic contracts and unsolicited commercial emails, cryptography, cybercrime, and satellite systems. Among them, the most controversial provisions are those concerning cryptography, cybercrime and ISP liability.

Cryptography

Providers of cryptography services should provide upon request decryption keys to authorised agents named by the Prime Minister. The penalty for not complying with this obligation is a 2 years jail sentence and a fine of EUR 30,000. When a crime or offence is suspected, the public prosecutor or a judge may ask any expert to decrypt data. If the incurred penalty exceeds a 2 years prison sentence, military staff may be asked for help. In that case, the decryption method and process would be kept secret, making it very difficult for defence lawyers to question the outcome. The last provision states that anyone having access to decryption keys should provide them. The keys should be provided upon judicial request when cryptography is used for commission, preparation, or facilitation of a suspected crime or offence. The penalty is very high again: a jail sentence of 3 years and a fine of EUR 45,000.

Finnish companies oppose law to censor internet

12 February, 2003
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A coalition of Finnish telecom and media companies has joined the fight against proposed government legislation to make owners of message boards liable for all content, similar to print media. Additionally, Finnish government wants access to historical data to trace anonymous postings. The law therefore requires publishers and ISPs website to log practically all Internet traffic data for a period of 3 months. In a message delivered to parliament on 5 February, the companies say the law could have a chilling effect on commercial communication.

Electronic Frontier Foundation has acted against the new law from the beginning, warning it will stifle freedom of expression on the Internet.

Press release Finnish companies (06.02.2003)
http://www.iccwbo.org/home/news_archives/2003/stories/finnish.asp

Internet censorship in Switzerland

12 February, 2003
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<- Update 25.10 2009 - if you are looking for Switzerland Network Testing Tool, you would find it on EFF website
http://www.eff.org/testyourisp/switzerland ->

In Switzerland, internet censorship is gaining ground. 2 recent events demonstrate this development.

Last December, the examining magistrate of the canton Vaud issued a command to many Swiss internet service providers (ISPs), to block access to 3 websites. The websites, all hosted in the USA, contain strong criticism of a.o. the Swiss courts and are prosecuted for defamation.

Action against governmental censorship in Germany

29 January, 2003
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EDRI-member FITUG (Forderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft) launched an urgent public campaign against government censorship of websites. A year ago, the district government of Dusseldorf county in Germany passed orders to more than 80 internet providers to block access from their users to some foreign websites.

Providers and civil rights groups united in protest against the directive, but lost 3 out of 4 court cases, confirming immediate enforceability of the orders. Government initiatives to censor websites date back to the mid nineties, but seemed to have been dropped from 2000 onwards as a very ineffective approach.

The renewed German efforts at censorship are in sharp contrast with the unanimous declaration of the European parliament against the use of "blocking"

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