Freedom of speech
Reporters Without Borders - Internet Annual report 2006 : Everyone's interested in the Internet - especially dictators
The Internet has revolutionised the world's media. Personal websites, blogs and discussion groups have given a voice to men and women who were once only passive consumers of information. It has made many newspaper readers and TV viewers into fairly successful amateur journalists. Dictators would seem powerless faced with this explosion of online material. How could they monitor the e-mails of China's 130 million users or censor the messages posted by Iran's 70,000 bloggers? The enemies of the Internet have unfortunately shown their determination and skill in doing just that. China was the first repressive country to realise that the Internet was an extraordinary tool of free expression and quickly assembled the money and
After many complaints from Russia, the Swedish authorities closed up on 5 May, Kavkazcenter.com, a Chechen separatist Web site that allegedly encouraged terrorism. The police arrived at PRQ Web hosting company in Stockholm with a search warrant and confiscated two servers.
The Finish owner of the servers, Mikael Storsjo, told Swedish news agency TT that the Russian embassy had filed a police complaint that the site incited rebellion for an attack in Nalchik by suspected Islamic extremists in October last year. "I see this as an outrage. I don't agree with what's written on the website but I respect their right to free speech." said Mr. Storsjo.
The Web site has moved around on numerous servers in the Nordics and Baltic countries during the last years and has previously been shut down by
The first-instance court of Hamburg gave its final ruling on the liability of forum comments, stating that moderators of internet forums are liable for content posted on their sites.
Initially, the legislation held forum providers liable for illegal content they had knowledge about and there was no obligation for them to search for such content. This interpretation was now overruled by the Hamburg court who considered providing forums as a business operation. Therefore forum providers should be able to have sufficient staff and means to check out comments on their forums. As the court stated, in case they cannot operate accordingly, “they either have to expand their in-house resources or ... reduce the scope of their business operations,"
The case originating the ruling was that of a forum member of German news
Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and all forms of Discrimination: Comprehensive Implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action - Report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its fourth session.
The report contains the all presentations, discussions, conclusions from the Chair and final recommendations from the High Level Seminar on Racism and the Internet that took place during 16-17 January 2006.
Full report (20.03.2006)
EDRI-gram : Combating Racism on Internet
As a result of the agreement signed between the French ISPs and the Ministry of the Family on 16 November 2005, starting with 1 April 2006, most of the ISPs started providing a free of charge parental control software to their subscribers.
The agreement signed between ISPs and the French authorities has followed strong protests relayed in the media, after EDRi-member IRIS unveiled in September 2005 the intention of the government to impose by law "by default" filtering by ISPs for the purpose of parental control. After this, the intentions of the government have been downsized excluding " by default" parental control installed by the ISP. The current agreement still raises many concerns, especially since no real information is provided on the software and its criteria.
Starting with 1 April 2006 new subscribers will have the software included
Laila Freivalds, the Swedish Foreign Minister resigned on 21 March after having been cornered by the press on her involvement in the closure on 9 February of a far-right party's website.
The Web site, which was planning to publish caricatures of Muhammad like those that led to deadly protests by Muslims all over the world, was contacted by a top Foreign Ministry official who said it should be closed for security reasons.
Although, in the beginning, the minister denied having known about the official's action and having exerted pressure on the hosting company, a later report from the ministry said she had been involved in the decision.
The minister told the media that the cartoons were "offensive to other peoples' religious beliefs" and admitted to the media that she was concerned
Michael Keith Smith, a former parliamentary candidate for the UK Independence Party has received £10,000 in damages in a defamation case occurred on the internet
Smith was a participant in a discussion on the Iraq war held on a discussion board run by Yahoo!. Tracy Williams, another participant in the discussion, posted under pseudonym series of defamatory remarks about Smith on an internet bulletin board calling him a "lard brain" a "Nazi", a "racist bigot" and a "nonce". She also alleged that he had sexually harassed a female co-worker.
Although Smith had obtained court orders in June 2004 that allowed him to identify the person behind the remarks, Williams continued the defamatory campaign in 2005. Smith sued her and Judge Alistair MacDuff considered the remarks clearly defamatory and awarded Smith £10,000 damages - £5,000
On 19 March 2006, date of the presidential elections in Belarus, the major online independent news resources (svaboda.org, charter97.org, belapan.com, ucpb.org, naviny.by, kozylin.com, zubr-belarus.com) were the targets of various types of attacks.
The Website of "Nasha Niva" newspaper was not available from Belarus on 18 March on the Internet. Other problems were spotted in accessing tut.by, a major Belarusian portal with about 60 000 visitors/day.
Also, Milinkievich's (candidate from Unified Democratic Forces) official website was unavailable for 2 days starting on 19 March. According with website administrators, they lost control over the server.
Charter97 press-centre websites were permanently attacked. Authorities not only used their usual techniques (IP address blocking, massive DoS attacks)