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Legal instruments to combat racism on the internet

Report prepared by the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law
(Lausanne)

Strasbourg, August 2000

Racism on the Internet – Download the document

SUMMARY

PROBLEM OF THE DISSEMINATION OF RACIST MESSAGES VIA THE INTERNET: GENERAL CONCLUSIONS OF ECRI

INTRODUCTION
Terms of reference
Scope of the study
Working procedures
Caveat

I. INTERNET: THE TECHNICAL AND LEGAL ENVIRONMENT
1.1. The characteristics of the network of networks: polycentrism, ubiquity, secrecy, transience
1.2. The services offered
1.3. The actors
1.3.1. The providers of containers
1.3.2. The providers of contents
1.3.3. The relayers of information

II. LEGAL ISSUES INVOLVED IN THE WORK OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INVESTIGATION AUTHORITIES
2.1. Jurisdiction: the wide scope of territorial competence
2.1.1. Jurisdiction in Criminal Matters
2.1.2. Jurisdiction in civil matters
2.2. The existence of safe data harbours, especially freedom of speech in the US
2.2.1. Federal legislation
2.2.2. State legislation
2.4. Obstacles in press and media law to holding a person responsible for racist content
2.5. Obstacles posed by data protection law
2.6. Problems of international cooperation among police and law enforcement authorities

III. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE VARIOUS PERSONS INVOLVED IN THE INTERNET
Introduction: The position of the problem
3.1. Liability of the author
3.1.1. The limits to criminal responsibility: difficulties in identifying the author
3.1.2. Civil responsibility of the “author”
3.2. Different interveners have different responsibilities
3.2.1. The responsibility of the relayers
3.2.2. The liability of the host
3.2.2.1. The host: aiding and abetting for the purposes of the criminal law?
3.2.2.2. Civil liability based on the host’s misconduct
3.2.3. The liability of the access
3.2.3.2. Access providers and civil liability
3.3. Legislative solutions and measures in the process of preparation
3.3.1. Legislation
3.3.2. Measures in the process of preparation
3.3.3. The particular case of the European Union and the United States
3.3.3.1. The European Union
3.3.3.2. Les Etats-Unis: Liability of Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) and Internet Access Providers (IAP’s)
3.4. Laws on the press/criminal responsibility

IV. THE POSITION UNDER PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW
4.1. Texts which enunciate legal duties
4.2. Practice of States in respect of Article 4 of ICERD
4.3. Opinions of specialised organs and jurists
4.4. Conclusion

V. SOFT LAW
5.1. Soft law instruments
5.1.1. Netiquette
5.1.2. Codes of Conduct - Mechanism of self-regulation
5.1.3. General terms and conditions of Providers
5.1.4. Governmental Registration Boards and Hotlines
5.1.5. Instruments to trace illegal contents: filtering, rating, labelling
5.2. European approach
5.2.1. Action Plan on the safer use of Internet
5.2.1.1. Creating a European network of hotlines
5.2.1.2. Encouraging self-regulation and codes of conduct
5.2.1.3. Developing filtering and rating systems
5.2.1.4. Encouraging awareness actions
5.2.2. EuroISPA
5.3. Implementing soft law instruments by Internet Providers and NGOs
5.3.1. Austria
5.3.2. The Netherlands
In the Netherlands a self-regulatory mechanism has been installed between the police and the Providers. Probably comparable with the above described
5.3.3. Germany
5.3.3.1. Code of conduct
5.3.3.2. Tasks and intentions of the FSM-Beschwerdestelle (Complaints Office)
5.3.4. France
5.3.4.1. General
5.3.4.2. Is netiquette legally binding
5.3.5. Belgium
5.3.6. United Kingdom
5.3.6.1. Code of Practice for ISPs
5.3.6.2. Technical Aspects of identifying authors of racist material
5.3.7. Italy
5.4. Implementing soft law instruments by governmental bodies
5.4.1. Switzerland
5.4.2. Sweden

Conclusion