Bulgarian ISPs ordered to remove websites

By EDRi · April 6, 2005

On 24 March 2005 the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior issued a radical
order to Bulgaria’s largest internet providers. Within 7 days the ISPs
“must remove all free hosting servers which offer works, audio records,
entertaining or business software, images, pictures, books, graphical
logos, etc.” and notify the department. Remarkably, the order isn’t
limited to copyright infringement, but bluntly seems to ban all content on
free hosting servers.

ISPs in Bulgaria are not forbidden to offer free hosting though, but can
only provide free servers larger than 100 MB to identified customers.
“More than 100 MB of webspace should be given only to customers with a
signed user contract, accompanied with a copy of their ID card or relevant
valid document for identification.”

The order was issued by colonel Boyko Donchev Nikolov, chief of the
department ‘Intellectual property, trademark, computer crimes and
gambling’ within the Ministry of the Interior, in order to stop possible
copyright infringement. But the order also obliges providers to remove any
other websites, images, pictures and texts that violate Bulgarian law,
such as “racial hatred propaganda, pornography, pedophilia, nazism, and
websites for gambling and etc.”

A spokesperson from provider BOL told the german e-zine Heise that ISPs
are very concerned about the impossible time frame to obtain identity
papers from many of their customers. As a first measure providers will
stop their internal search engines, as they might lead customers to
copyright infringing contents.

Veni Markovski from EDRI-member Internet Society Bulgaria comments: “We
consider this as an effort by the Police to make ISPs fully liable for the
content their customers provide. Currently, ISPs in Bulgaria can only be
held liable if they are first properly notified (on paper) by the police
about illegal content and secondly would refuse to remove the content. The
order seems to be part of a P.R. campaign from the Ministry of the
Interior against illegal content. Several people have recently been
charged with online teenage pornography, and they use the momentum to
create good will with holders of intellectual property rights.”

Bulgarien: Webspace nur gegen Personalausweis (31.03.2005)