Justice and home affairs – 22-11-2010 – 15:55
Committee : Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
Blocking access to web sites containing child pornography may not be entirely effective, and could be hard to do EU-wide, due to EU Member States’ differing sensitivities and traditions, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Monday, in a preliminary debate on a proposed EU directive on sexual abuse of children and child pornography. Studies suggest that between 10% and 20% of children in Europe are sexually assaulted during childhood.
MEPs questioned Belgian justice minister Stefaan De Clerck, representing the Council Presidency, on the progress of the proposed EU directive on sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.
Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur Roberta Angelilli (EPP, IT), pointed out that ‘there are still some critical points’ to be discussed, due mainly to ‘differences in the legal systems’ of the Member States and their criminal law provisions. Ms Angelilli’s draft report should be presented in January 2011 and the committee vote should be taken in February.
Tough issues in the current discussions include rules to prevent anyone convicted of child abuse offences in one Member State from getting a job with children in another Member States, combating sex tourism, and blocking access to internet sites. Blocking internet access, or deleting internet pages is a particularly sensitive area, where ‘Member States have different traditions and sensibilities’, said Mr De Clerck.
The proposal will be discussed as a priority item at the December meeting of the Council, where ‘we want to have a final decision’, he added, so that the directive can be finalised and approved under the Hungarian Presidency next year. The December Council is to procedural matters, protection of victims, and prevention.
Doubts about blocking web access
Alexander Alvaro (ALDE, DE), focused on efforts to remove web sites posting child abuse material. ‘Blocking does not seem to be very efficient’, he said, suggesting that the question of whether a web site should be deleted or blocked is perhaps best left to Member States, rather than the EU. He also pointed out that asking the United States or Russia to take web sites off the internet could be problematic.
‘In a hearing in October we heard one organization of victims and it was against blocking websites’, pointed out Andrew Brons (NI, UK), adding that ‘blocking can be merely cosmetic’, and noting the case of an Irish bakery web site which had been linked to a web site containing child pornography without the knowledge of the original internet host server.
‘Blocking web sites is not just a conflict of legal traditions, it’s also a political matter’, said Jan Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE). ‘Blocking apparently doesn’t work’, he said, noting that the web site of a campaign against child pornography had twice been blocked in the Netherlands.
Preventing child abuse is much more important, argued Birgit Sippel (S&D, DE), adding that further discussion was needed on the proposal’s ‘internal contradictions’ with regard to sanctions to be imposed.
‘Blocking internet sites can be rather pointless. Why is not the accent put on prevention?’, Sophia in’t Veld (ALDE, NL), asked Mr De Clerk.
Replying to MEPs’ questions, Mr De Clerk emphasised that ‘we have to strike a good balance between feasibility and the efficiency of the instrument as a whole. We need all types of measures, so that we can react early to prevent any sexual abuse. In December, I hope I can give positive results’.
In the chair: Sophia in’t Veld (ALDE, NL)
EU – Net neutrality – the way forward: “(RAPID)
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Speech at European Commission and European Parliament Summit on ‘The Open Internet and Net Neutrality in Europe’, Brussels, 11 November 2010. I say to those people who are currently cut off from Skype: vote with your feet and leave your mobile provider. see also UK to ISPs: Prioritize away! (so long as you tell users) (Ars Technica) and speech on net neutrality by Ed Vaizey, UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.
(Via QuickLinks Update.)
Is Europe’s shield for web hosts corroding away?: “OPINION: A gap is emerging between the way similar laws are being interpreted in the US and Europe that presents a threat to web hosts. In Europe they are at greater risk of being saddled with liability for users’ copyright transgressions than in the US.“
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
Telecoms – Regulatory Framework: “Public consultation on the open internet and net neutrality
Deadline: Thursday 30 September 2010
DG Information Society and Media has launched a public consultation on key questions arising from the issue of net neutrality. European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, announced in April 2010 her intention to launch this consultation in order to take forward Europe’s net neutrality debate. The consultation is part of the Commission’s follow-up to its commitment – one of the prerequisites for the successful conclusion of the 2009 EU telecoms reform package – to scrutinise closely the open and neutral nature of the internet and to report on the state of play to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
The consultation covers such issues as whether internet providers should be allowed to adopt certain traffic management practices, prioritising one kind of internet traffic over another; whether such traffic management practices may create problems and have unfair effects for users; whether the level of competition between different internet service providers and the transparency requirements of the new telecom framework may be sufficient to avoid potential problems by allowing consumers’ choice; and whether the EU needs to act further to ensure fairness in the internet market, or whether industry should take the lead. All interested parties – service and content providers, consumers, businesses and researchers – are invited to respond to the consultation by 30 September 2010. The consultation will feed into a Commission report on net neutrality, which should be presented by the end of this year.
* Press release: Digital Agenda: Commission launches consultation on open internet and net neutrality (IP/10/860)
* Consultation document: Questionnaire for the public consultation on the open internet and net neutrality in Europe pdf – 20 KB
Specific Privacy Statement pdf - 20 KB
Internet users should be able to demand that their information is removed from company systems even if it was collected with their consent, the European Parliament has said. The Parliament has also called for a charter of individuals’ internet rights.…
(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
Google Data Admission Angers European Officials: (New York Times)
European privacy regulators and advocates have reacted angrily to the disclosure by Google, the world’s largest search engine, that it had systematically collected private data since 2006 while compiling its Street View photo archive. After being pressed by European officials about the kind of data the company compiled in creating the archive — and what it did with that information — Google acknowledged that it had collected snippets of private data around the world. In a blog post on its Web site, the company said information had been recorded as it was sent over unencrypted residential wireless networks as Google’s Street View cars with mounted recording equipment passed by
(Via QuickLinks Update.)
Google claims its privacy protections are adequate in response to regulators’ criticisms: “Google has responded to the criticisms of 10 privacy commissioners and their demands that it improve its record on the privacy protections in new product launches by saying that it is already doing enough on privacy.“
(Via OUT-LAW News.)