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Erklärung der Mitgliederorganisationen der weltweiten Kampagne gegen staatliche Netzkontrolle' ('Global Internet Liberty Campaign Member Statement') vom 9. Sept. 1999 in München.

Fundstelle: http://www.alcei.it/news/cs990909.html.


Comunicato del 9 settembre 1999
ALCEI insieme ad altre 18 associazioni
internazionali ha presentato un documento
all'Internet Content Summit che si svolgera'
documenti ALCEI nei giorni 9-10-11 a Monaco, in Germania.

Per informazioni alcei@alcei.it, matrix:alcei@2:335/620, fax: 02 867055.

I testi sono liberamente riproducibili ed utilizzabili, a condizione di citare la fonte enon stravolgerne il significato Sarebbe gradito essere informati dell'eventuale impiego delmateriale messo a disposizione.

Il documento denuncia il riemergere di mai
sopiti striscianti tentativi di censura e di
limitazione della liberta' di espressione del
pensiero, mediante la proposta di adozione -
questa volta a livello europeo - di criteri per
la classificazione e filtraggio dei contenuti
presenti in Rete.

ALCEI insieme alle altre associazioni
firmatarie del documento ribadisce la sua
piu'assoluta contrarieta' all'imposizione di
sistemi inefficaci, inutili e pericolosi come
sostituti di un'efficace attivita' culturale ed
educativa

Global Internet Liberty Campaign Member Statement. Submitted to the Internet Content Summit Munich, Germany
September 9-11, 1999

Summary

The creation of an international rating and
filtering system for Internet content has been
proposed as an alternative to national
legislation regulating online speech. Contrary
to their original intent, such systems may
actually facilitate governmental restrictions
on Internet expression. Additionally, rating
and filtering schemes may prevent individuals
from discussing controversial or unpopular
topics, impose burdensome compliance costs on
speakers, distort the fundamental cultural
diversity of the Internet, enable invisible
"upstream" filtering, and eventually create a
homogenized Internet dominated by large
commercial interests. In order to avoid the
undesirable effects of legal and technical
solutions that seek to block the free flow of
information, alternative educational approaches
should be emphasized as less restrictive means
of ensuring beneficial uses of the Internet.

* * *

A number of serious concerns have been raised
since rating and filtering systems were first
proposed as voluntary alternatives to
government regulation of Internet content. The
international human rights and free expression
communities have taken the lead
in fostering more deliberate consideration of
so-called "self-regulatory" approaches to
Internet content control.
Members of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign
have monitored the development of filtering
proposals around the world and have previously
issued two statements on the issue -- "Impact
of Self-Regulation and Filtering on Human
Rights to Freedom of
Expression" in March 1998 and a "Submission to
the World Wide Web Consortium on PICSRules" in
December 1997. These joint statements reflect
the international scope of concern over the
potential impact that "voluntary" proposals to
control on-line
content could have on the right to freedom of
opinion and expression guaranteed by Article 19
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The undersigned organizations now reiterate
those concerns on the occasion of the Internet
Content Summit.

Originally promoted as technological
alternatives that would prevent the enactment
of national laws regulating Internet speech,
filtering and rating systems have been shown to
pose their own significant threats to free
expression. When closely scrutinized, these
systems should be viewed more realistically as
fundamental architectural changes that may, in
fact, facilitate the suppression of speech far
more effectively than
national laws alone ever could.

First, the existence of a standardized rating
system for Internet content -- with the
accompanying technical changes to facilitate
blocking -- would allow governments to mandate
the use of such a regime. By requiring
compliance with an existing ratings system, a
state could avoid the burdensome task of
creating a new content classification system
while defending the ratings protocol as
voluntarily created and approved by private
industry.

This concern is not hypothetical. Australia has
already enacted legislation which mandates
blocking of Internet content based on existing
national film and video classification
guidelines. The Broadcasting Services Amendment
(Online Services) Bill places sweeping
restrictions on adults providing or gaining
access to material deemed unsuitable for minors
as determined by Australian film and video
classification standards. The Australian
experience shows that even developed
democracies can
engage in Internet censorship, given the
necessary technical tools. An international
content ratings system would be such a tool,
creating a ratings regime and blocking
mechanisms which states could impose on their
citizens.

Australia is not alone in its support of
mandatory Internet content ratings systems. The
United States government, in its unsuccessful
defense of the Communications Decency Act,
argued that the use of an Internet "tagging"
scheme would serve as a
defense to liability under the Act. The
scenario advanced by the U.S. government would
have required online speakers to "tag" material
as "indecent" in a manner that would facilitate
blocking of such content. That argument failed
in the face of
evidence that Web browsers were not yet
configured to recognize and block material
bearing such "tags." If the sort of "voluntary"
rating systems being advocated today had been
widely used in 1996, the government's argument
may have prevailed.

In sum, the establishment and widespread
acceptance of an international rating and
blocking system could promote a new model of
speech suppression, shifting the focus of
governmental censorship initiatives from direct
prohibition of speech to
mandating the use of existing ratings and
blocking technologies.

Second, the imposition of civil or criminal
penalties for "mis-rating" Internet content is
likely to follow any widespread deployment of a
rating and blocking regime. A state-imposed
penalty system that effectively deters
misrepresentations would
likely be proposed to facilitate effective
"self-regulation." Proposed legislation
creating criminal and civil liability for
mis-rating Internet content has already been
discussed in the United States.

In addition to their potential to actually
encourage government regulation, rating and
filtering systems possess other undesirable
characteristics. Such systems are likely to:

* prevent individuals from using the Internet
to exchange information on topics that may be
controversial or unpopular; * impose burdensome
compliance costs on non-commercial or
relatively small commercial speakers;

* distort the fundamental cultural diversity of
the Internet by forcing Internet speech to be
labeled or rated according to a single
classification system;

* enable invisible "upstream" filtering by
Internet Service Providers or other entities;
and * eventually create a homogenized Internet
dominated by large commercial speakers.

In light of the many potential negative effects
of rating and filtering systems, the movement
toward their development and acceptance must be
slowed. If free speech principles are to be
preserved on the Internet, thoughtful
consideration of these
initiatives and their potential dangers is
clearly warranted. Although generally
well-intentioned, proposals for
"self-regulation" of Internet content carry
with them a
substantial risk of damaging the online medium
in unintended ways.

The rejection of rating and filtering systems
would not leave the online community without
alternatives to state regulation. In fact,
alternative solutions exist that would likely
be more effective than the legal and technical
approaches that have created a binary view of
the issue of children's access to Internet
content. Approaches that emphasize education
and parental supervision should receive far
more attention than they have to date, as they
alone possess the potential to effectively
direct young people toward beneficial and
appropriate uses of the Internet. Ultimately,
the issue is one of values, which can only be
addressed properly within a particular family
or
cultural environment. Neither punitive laws nor
blocking technologies can ensure that a child
will only access online content deemed
appropriate by that child's family or
community. While the Internet is a global
medium, questions concerning its appropriate
use can only be addressed at the most local
level.

For these reasons, we urge a re-orientation of
the ongoing debate over Internet content. We
submit that a false dichotomy has been created,
one that poses state regulation or industry
"self-regulation" as the only available
options. We urge a more
open-minded debate that seriously explores the
potential of educational approaches that are
likely to be more effective and less
destructive of free expression.



This submission is made by the following
organizations:

ALCEI - Electronic Frontiers Italy -
Associazione per la Libertà nella Comunicazione
Elettronica Interattiva

American Civil Liberties Union

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK)

Electronic Frontiers Australia

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Förderverein Informationstechnik und
Gesellschaft (FITUG)

Fronteras Electronicas Espana (FrEE)

Human Rights Watch

Index on Censorship

Internet Freedom

Internet Society

Imaginons un Réseau Internet Solidaire (IRIS)

Liberty (National Council for Civil Liberties)

NetAction

Privacy International

quintessenz

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Verantwortlich für die redaktionelle Gestaltung aller Mitteilungen im Rahmen der WWW-Seite [http://www.tu-berlin.de/fb1/AGiW]: C. Gizewski, EP: christian.gizewski@tu-berlin.de