This section of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) has been re-launched on 07 May, 1999. The former pages were known as Internet Law Related News by Yaman Akdeniz at http://www.leeds.ac.uk/law/pgs/yaman/netlaw.htm. The purpose of this section is to monitor the European Union policy and legal initiatives in relation to the Internet. These will mainly involve the regulation of illegal and harmful content over the Internet, the development of electronic commerce, encryption and digital signatures policy, convergence issues, Internet Service Providers liability, and intellectual property rights.
As ever these pages will be regularly updated. September 1999, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK).
Please cite these pages as:
Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), "EU-Watch Section," at http://www.cyber-rights.org/eu-watch/. Last updated 22 Dec., 1999.
Information Society Directorate General - eEurope - An
Information Society For All at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg13/eeurope/home.htm
On 8 December 1999 the European Commission launched an initiative entitled "eEurope - An Information Society for All", which proposes ambitious targets to bring the benefits of the Information Society within reach of all Europeans. The initiative focuses on ten priority areas, from education to transport and from healthcare to the disabled. The initiative is a key element in the President's strategy to modernise the European economy.
Text of the communication is at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg13/eeurope/pdf/com081299_en.pdf
Press release, 8 december 1999 is at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg13/eeurope/pdf/pr081299_en.pdf
Email address for comments on this Communication: email@example.com (please submit comments by 1 February 2000)
EU Amended proposal for a coherent legal
framework for electronic commerce in the Single Market
An amended proposal for a Directive to establish a coherent legal framework for electronic commerce within the Single Market has been put forward on 1 September 1999 by the European Commission. The amended proposal takes into account the favourable Opinion from the European Parliament, adopted on the 6 May 1999, on the original proposal that fully supported the Commission's Single Market approach. A number of clarifications have been introduced in the amended proposal concerning 'inter alia' definitions of Information Society services and of consumers, the link between the electronic commerce proposal and existing consumer protection and data protection Directives, the treatment of unsolicited commercial communications via electronic mail and determination of the moment when an on-line contract is concluded. However, in order to preserve the careful balance of interests featured in the original proposal, the Commission has maintained the proposed rules limiting the liability of on-line service providers who act as intermediaries.
The amended proposal is at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg15/en/media/eleccomm/com427en.pdf
The original proposal is at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg15/en/media/eleccomm/999.htm
See further http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg15/en/media/eleccomm/eleccomm.htm for further information.
EU PRESIDENCY CONCLUSIONS - COLOGNE EUROPEAN COUNCIL - 3 AND 4 JUNE 1999, DOC/99/2
1. The European Council met in Cologne on 3 and 4 June 1999 to consider major issues for the future following the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty.
16. The jobs of the future will be
created by innovation and the information society.
The 5th Community framework Research Programme, with its budget of 15 billion, is intended to speed up the process of innovation and exploit the Community's potential for employment and growth to the full. The more competitive Europe becomes in the high technology sector, the more high-quality employment opportunities will be created.
The development of a European navigation satellite system (Galileo) should be given careful scrutiny, in view of its strategic importance. The Council is invited to expedite its discussion of the Commission communication on the system with the aim of securing finance largely from private sources.
Europe has to take a leading role in the information society:
* All schools must be given access to the Internet as soon as possible.
* To develop Europe's leading position in electronic commerce, there must be improved policy coordination to create a favourable environment, and a Directive which has the support of the industry must be adopted speedily.
17. The European Council instructs the Commission and the Member States to work together with business representatives to identify the obstacles to the speedy development and application of information technology and to work out proposals for solving the problems. In so doing, the need for standardisation and deregulation should be kept in mind.
EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
44. The European Council takes the view that, at the present stage of development of the European Union, the fundamental rights applicable at Union level should be consolidated in a Charter and thereby made more evident.
45. To this end it has adopted the Decision appended as Annex IV. The incoming Presidency is asked to establish the conditions for the implementation of this Decision by the time of the extraordinary meeting of the European Council in Tampere on 15 and 16 October 1999.
EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECISION ON THE DRAWING UP OF A CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
Protection of fundamental rights is a founding principle of the Union and an indispensable prerequisite for her legitimacy. The obligation of the Union to respect fundamental rights has been confirmed and defined by the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice. There appears to be a need, at the present stage of the Union's development, to establish a Charter of fundamental rights in order to make their overriding importance and relevance more visible to the Union's citizens.
The European Council believes that this Charter should contain the fundamental rights and freedoms as well as basic procedural rights guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and derived from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law. The Charter should also include the fundamental rights that pertain only to the Union's citizens. In drawing up such a Charter account should furthermore be taken of economic and social rights as contained in the European Social Charter and the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers (Article 136 TEC), insofar as they do not merely establish objectives for action by the Union.
In the view of the European Council, a draft of such a Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union should be elaborated by a body composed of representatives of the Heads of State and Government and of the President of the Commission as well as of members of the European Parliament and national parliaments. Representatives of the European Court of Justice should participate as observers. Representatives of the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and social groups as well as experts should be invited to give their views. Secretariat services should be provided by the General Secretariat of the Council.
This body should present a draft document in advance of the European Council in December 2000. The European Council will propose to the European Parliament and the Commission that, together with the Council, they should solemnly proclaim on the basis of the draft document a European Charter of Fundamental Rights. It will then have to be considered whether and, if so, how the Charter should be integrated into the treaties. The European Council mandates the General Affairs Council to take the necessary steps prior to the Tampere European Council.
European Commission approved a Communication on "Illegal and Harmful Content on the Internet" together with a Green Paper on the "Protection of Minors and Human Dignity" on the 16th of October 1996. While the Communication gives policy options for immediate action to fight against harmful and illegal content on the Internet, the Green Paper takes a horizontal approach and will initiate a medium- and long-term reflection on the issue across all electronic media. Both documents advocate a closer co-operation between Member States and on an international level, the use of filtering software and rating systems, and an encouragement to self-regulation of access-providers. The Commission documents follow the resolution adopted on 27 September 1996 by the Telecommunications Council of Ministers, on preventing the dissemination of illegal content on the Internet, in particular child pornography. The Council invited the Commission to present practical measures in time for the next Telecommunications Council on 28 November 1996. (From the press release)
Both documents are available in different languages:
Illegal and harmful content on the Internet:
Green Paper on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity in Audiovisual and Information Services:
Report of Working Party on Illegal and Harmful Content on the Internet: The report is a first response to the European Council's request of 27 September 1996. It takes account of the two papers that were recently published by the European Commission: the Communication on illegal and harmful content on the Internet and the Green Paper on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity in audiovisual and information services and elaborates in practical terms some of the proposals. It follows the informal Council meeting held in Bologna on 24 April 1996, in which European Telecommunications Ministers and Culture Ministers identified the issue of illegal and harmful content on the Internet as an urgent priority for analysis and action. While it was recognised that existing national laws apply to the Internet, agreement in a wider context appeared necessary to address the challenges raised by the specific nature of the Internet. The Commission was therefore asked to produce an analysis of the problems and to assess in particular the desirability of European or international regulation.. The Report of the Working Party examines the recent attempts and initiatives to regulate illegal and harmful content on the Internet by the Member States including the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Germany and identifies the following four statements as a central approach:
Resolution of the Telecommunications Council of 28 November 1996.
European Commission web page - Promoting best use, preventing abuse: To prevent illegal and harmful content being distributed on the Internet the European Commission is promoting initiatives which are aimedat increasing the general awareness among parents, teachers, public sector and the information industry about how to deal with the issue inpractical terms. This action accompanies the Green Paper on Protection of Minors and Human Dignity in Audiovisual and Information Services and the Communication on Illegal and Harmful Content on the Internet .
European Commission Legal Advisory Board, Response to the Green Paper on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity in Audiovisual and Information Service: The LAB does not share the view expressed by some members of the Internet community according to which the Internet is "a sphere apart" subject to no national law, regulated, if at all, exclusively by self-regulation by those participating in it. There cannot, however, be any doubt that traditional means of enforcing the law are challenged by the international nature of modern audiovisual and information services.
Report on the Commission Communication on illegal and harmful content on the Internet (COM(96)0487 - C4-0592/96) Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs, Rapporteur: Mr Pierre PRADIER - 20 March 1997, A4-0098/97. For a pdf version of the report click here.
European Parliament Resolution on the Commission communication on illegal and harmful content on the Internet, 24 April 1997
Interim report on Initiatives in EU Member States with respect to Combating Illegal and harmful content on the Internet, Version 7 (June 4, 1997)
Report on the Commission Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services. Committee on Culture, Youth, Education and the Media. Rapporteur: Mr Philip Whitehead, 27 June 1997.
European Commission Working Document, Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services: Consultations on the Green Paper, 15 July, 1997.
European Parliament Resolution of 24 October 1997 on the Commission Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services (COM(96) 483)
EU Commission Communication to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee on the follow-up to the Green paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services including a Proposal for a Recommendation
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Action Plan on promoting safe use of the Internet, 26 November 1997. See also the Press release for the new Action Plan.
Download the Action Plan WinWord (110 KByte) RTF (169 KByte) PostScript (1.02 MByte)
C/Net News.Com, EC acts for safer Net, November 26, 1997
C/Net News.Com, EU to propose Net conduct codes November 17, 1997
The European Commission adopted a proposal for an Action Plan on promoting safe use of the Internet on the 26th of November 1997. This takes the form of a Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions with a proposal for a Council decision adopting a Multiannual Community Action Plan on promoting safe use of the Internet.
The Action Plan is the follow up of earlier initiatives by the European Union, and refers directly to the 16 October 1996 Communication on Illegal and Harmful Content on the Internet and Green Paper on Protection of Minors and Human Dignity in Audiovisual and Information Services , and the Parliament resolutions of 24 April 1997 and 24 October 1997.
The Action Plan is closely linked with the Commission Communication and proposal for a Recommendation of 18 November 1997, which outlines political measures on protection of minors and human dignity in the audiovisual services. The Action Plan contains action lines on creating a safe environment through establishing a European network of hot-lines and industry self-regulation, developing filtering and rating systems and awareness action.
Legal Aspects of Computer-Related Crime in the Information Society (European Commission) COMCRIME - Study prepared for the European Commission by Prof. Dr. Ulrich Sieber, University of Wurzburg. Executive Summary of the 222 pages report is available at http://www2.echo.lu/legal/en/comcrime/sieber.html. The full report can be downloaded through those pages. See also the Legal Advisory Board Computer Crime pages at http://www2.echo.lu/legal/en/comcrime/comcrime.html
European COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 28.05.1998 on the development of the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry by promoting national frameworks aimed at achieving a comparable and effective level of protection of minors and human dignity. The recommendation is available for download as a PDF file in three languages - EN, DE, FR.
Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs REPORT on the Commission proposal for a Council Decision adopting a Multiannual Community Action Plan on promoting safe use of the Internet (COM(97)0582 - C4- 0042/98 - 97/0377(CNS)), 9 June 1998 A4-0234/98. Rapporteur: Mr Gerhard Schmid. For an html version of the report try here.
Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs, Reccomendation for Second Reading on the common position adopted by the Council with a view to adopting the Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council adopting a multiannual Community action plan on promoting safer use of the Internet (C4-0535/98 - 97/0337(COD)), 28 October 1998 A4-0377/98. Rapporteur: Mr Gerhard Schmid. An html version is here.
D R A F T Amended proposal for a EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL DECISION adopting a Multiannual Community Action Plan on promoting safer use of the Internet, (presented by the Commission pursuant to Article 189a (2) of the EC Treaty), (Commission Modified proposal 11 September 1998).
In relation to these issues see Akdeniz, Y., and Walker, C., "The Governance of the Internet in Europe with Special Reference to Illegal and Harmful Content, " paper presented at the Inet98 Conference, Geneva, Switzerland, 22 July 1998.
DECISION No /98/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of adopting a Multiannual Community Action Plan on promoting safer use of the Internet by combating illegal and harmful content on global networks (Council Common Position 24 September 1998).
Action plan on promoting safer use of the Internet: (21 December 1998) The European Union adopts Action Plan on Promoting Safer Use of the Internet.
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.
See also the Action plan on promoting safer use of the Internet pages.
Action Plan on Promoting Safer Use of the Internet, DECISION No 276/1999/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL, of 25 January 1999 adopting a Multiannual Community Action Plan o promoting safer use of the Internet by combating illegal and harmful content on global networks.
Work Programme (Final Draft, 4-year Work Programme for 1999 - 2002) adopted by the European Commission following the above Action Plan on Promoting Safer Use of the Internet.
COM (97) 503 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions ensuring security and trust in electronic communication Towards a European Framework for Digital Signatures and Encryption.
Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on a common framework for electronic signatures (European Commission) - Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on a common framework for electronic signatures COM(1998) 297 Official Journal C 325, 23/10/98. See http://www.ispo.cec.be/eif/policy/com98297.html or http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/docs/DigitalSignatures.pdf
Press release of the Directive is at http://www.ispo.cec.be/eif/policy/press98297.html
Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on a common framework for electronic signatures ; Official Journal C 40, 15 Feb. 1999, at http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/oj/1999/1999C40/1999C4010_en.pdf
Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on a common framework for electronic signatures; Official Journal C93 of 06/04/99, at http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/oj/1999/1999C93/1999C93_06_EN.pdf
A European Initiative in Electronic Commerce, Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions COM(97)157: The aim of this European Initiative is to encourage the vigorous growth of electronic commerce in Europe. A fast-moving sector, electronic commerce will have a considerable impact on Europe's competitiveness in global markets. Building upon the Commission's work to date, it provides a coherent policy framework for future Community action, and aims at establishing a common European position to achieve global consensus through international negotiations. See also the Electronic Commerce and the European Union web page.
Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the European Initiative in Electronic Commerce (OJ C180 of 11/06/98); adoption on 12/03/98, at http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/followup.htm
EU-US - Joint EU-U.S. Statement on electronic commerce 5 December 1997
E-Commerce and Indirect Taxation: Communication by the Commission to the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and to the Economic And Social Committee: COM(98)374final; 17/6/98, at http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/docs/En.zip
Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the Communication from the Commission on Electronic commerce and indirect taxation (COM(1998) 374 final); adopted at the plenary session of 9-10/09/98, OJ C 407 of 28/12/98, at http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/oj/1998/1998C407/pe223_962_en.pdf
Electronic commerce: European Commission through DGXV proposes legal framework (18 November 1998)
A proposal for a Directive to establish a coherent legal framework for the development of electronic commerce within the Single Market has been put forward by the European Commission. The proposed Directive would ensure that information society services benefit from the Single Market principles of free movement of services and freedom of establishment and could provide their services throughout the European Union (EU) if they comply with the law in their country of origin. Such services are defined as those provided normally against remuneration, at a distance, by electronic means and in response to the individual request of a customer. The proposed Directive would establish specific harmonised rules only in those areas strictly necessary to ensure that businesses and citizens could supply and receive information society services throughout the EU, irrespective of frontiers. These areas include definition of where operators are established, electronic contracts, liability of intermediaries, dispute settlement and role of national authorities. In other areas the Directive would build on existing EU instruments which provide for harmonisation or on mutual recognition of national laws. The Directive would apply only to service providers established within the EU and not those established outside.
Liability of intermediaries is one of the most important provisions within the Draft Directive and the press release states that:
To facilitate electronic commerce, it is necessary to clarify the responsibility of on-line service providers for transmitting and storing information from third party (i.e. when service providers act as "intermediaries").
To eliminate existing legal uncertainties and to avoid divergent approaches at Member State level, the proposal would establish an exemption from liability for intermediaries where they play a passive role as a "mere conduit" of information from third parties and limit service providers' liability for other "intermediary" activities such as the storage of information. The proposal strikes a careful balance between the different interests involved in order to stimulate co-operation between different parties and so reduce the risk of illegal activity on-line.
Clarification of the Internet Service Providers laibility issue is welcome and at most needed following the pressures on the ISPs to control content over the Internet. As a bad example of this trend see the English version of the CompuServe Germany case (Felix Somm decision).
EU - E-commerce directive - full texts now available (ISPO) - Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on certain legal aspects of electronic commerce in the internal market: COM(98) 586 final. For downloading the Directive in both PDF and word files see http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/legal.htm#legal. You can also get the English versions directly from here: PDF or word
European Parliament: Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy (Draftsman: Mr Karsten Friedrich Hoppenstedt) of 19 March 1999 (amendments 1-27): Opinion for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Citizens' Rights on the proposal for the a European Parliament and Council Directive on certain legal aspects of electronic commerce in the internal market (COM(98)0586 - 98/0325(COD)) - report by Mrs Christine Oddy [added 06 April 1999].
European Parliament: Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Citizens' Rights: amendments on electronic commerce tabled by individual MEPs in the Legal Affairs Committee to Mrs Oddy's draft report; subject to approval by EP on 30/03/99 of 18 March 1999 (EP 229.868/amendments 27 - 148); multilingual version [added 06 April 1999].
European Parliament: Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights: Draft Report (A4-0000/99) of 10 February on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on certain legal aspects of electronic commerce in the internal market (COM(98)0586 - C4-0020/99 - 98/0352(COD)) Rapporteur: Mrs Christine Margaret Oddy, at http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/epdrafts/A4-00099_en.doc [added 06 April, 1999]
Global Information Networks, Ministerial Conference, Bonn 6-8 July, 1997: In the resolution adopted at the meeting of 8 October 1996, the Council of Ministers of the European Union has recognized the need for further analysis of the issues underlying development of information society policy internationally with a view to reaching a common understanding on means and conditions governing the use of global information networks and stresses the need for coordination between initiatives relating to the subjects, both in the Union framework and in other international fora. In addition, the Council has welcomed the German proposal to host an international conference dedicated to this end that will be prepared in close cooperation with the European Commission and the Member States. Read the Theme paper of the Conference.
'A New World Order for Global Communications,' a speech by Martin Bangemann to Telecom Inter@ctive '97 ITU Geneva 8 Sep 1997.
'Europe and the Information Society - The Policy Response to Globalisation and Convergence,' by Martin Bangemann, Information Society Forum Venice 18 September 1997.
European Commission issued a Green Paper Green Paper on the convergence of the telecommunications, media and information technology sectors, and the implications for regulation. See Towards an Information Society approach COM(97)623.
Following a proposal of its members Martin Bangemann and Marcelino Oreja, the European Commission adopted a Green Paper in December 1997 on the convergence of the telecommunications, media and information technology (IT) sectors. Nowadays digital technology allows a substantially higher capacity of traditional and new services to converge towards the same transporting networks and to use integrated consumer devices for purposes such as telephony, television or personal computing. Convergence is happening already on a global scale. The Convergence Green Paper will launch a Europe-wide debate on how this new generation of electronic media should be regulated in the next century. The Green Paper avoids pre-packaged answers but asks open questions about the future, particularly about the extent and speed of change. One key message is that convergence should not lead to additional regulation. Current rules should be reviewed to check whether they will still be relevant in the light of convergence. The EU needs to have the right regulatory framework in order to maximise the benefits of this convergence in terms of job creation, growth, consumer choice, cultural diversity.
LAB Reply to the Convergence Green Paper (Legal Advisory Board) is at http://www.ispo.cec.be/convergencegp/lab.html.See also minutes of LAB meeting, 31 March 1998at http://www2.echo.lu/legal/en/lab/980331/minute398.html
Globalisation and Information Society: European Commission proposes International Charter to strengthen world-wide coordination, Brussels, 4th February 1998.
Industry, users and public interests require greater consistency in global rules for doing business electronically and using the global communication networks for a variety of purposes. Therefore following a proposal of its members in charge of industrial affairs and telecommunication and external relations and trade policy, Martin Bangemann and Sir Leon Brittan, the European Commission recommended in a communication to launch an international debate regarding global communications policy, to set a framework for international policy cooperation and to start a process which could lead to the adoption of an International Communications Charter. An International Charter would be a multi-lateral understanding on a method of coordination to remove obstacles for the global electronic marketplace. It would recognise the work of existing international organisations and promote the participation of private sector and relevant social groups, but it would neither be legally binding nor would it establish an international supervisory authority. The Charter could be agreed by or in the course of 1999.
Provisional list of comments on the Green Paper on the Convergence of the Telecommunications, Media and Information Technology Sectors, and the Implications for Regulation (COM(97)623final), submitted in response to the public consultation and accessible through the World-Wide Web, at http://www.ispo.cec.be/convergencegp/convreply.html
Opinion of The Economic and Social Committee of 29/04/98 on the "Green Paper on the Convergence of the Telecommunications, Media and Information Technology Sectors, and the Implications for Regulation towards an Information Society Approach"at http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/docs/ECOSOCConvergence.doc
Full text of the EU Communication on International Charter (European Commission) The need for strengthened international coordination - Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions COM (98) 50. A PDF version is also available at http://www.ispo.cec.be/eif/policy/com9850en.pdf
Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the 'Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Globalization and the Information Society - The need for strengthened international coordination'; Official Journal C 284 of 14/09/1998, at http://www.ispo.cec.be/Ecommerce/oj/1998/1998C284/EN.doc
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology. This site and news items are maintained by Richard Swetenham of the DG XIII of the European Commission. This excellent site is frequently updated.
Last updated 08 May, 1999.