Just got this article on the NY Times. First they try to censor Yahoo,
Net Registration Bill Could Trigger Exodus From
French Web Sites
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PARIS -- It's called the Liberty of
Communication Act, but critics say the
legislation would instead encourage the
Internet's first mass emigration.
By requiring that the names of all who publish
on the Internet be registered with authorities, the bill could
prompt an exodus
of French users to Net companies in other nations, opponents
The legislation, passed by the House and being debated in the
week, would apply to any company that hosts World Wide Web
viewable by the public.
It is apparently without precedent in Europe and the United
The bill arose in response to a case last year of a nude photo
of model Estelle
Halliday being posted on a free Web site without her
permission. It seeks to
place legal liability for what is published on a Web site on
the individual that
creates it rather than on Internet Web hosting companies.
Web hosting companies provide users on the Net with space on
computer servers. Some charge for the space; others offer it
U.S.-based GeoCities, a division of Yahoo!, is a leading
example. It's popular
for everything from personal pages showcasing a family's
pages created by political advocacy groups.
While the French legislation would make it easy to track down
cybercriminals, its principle aim is to eradicate anonymity in
publishing, said Philippe Chantepie, a technical advisor for
the French Culture
"In a newspaper you can see the who the publisher is, the
Chantepie said. "When you publish something, you're
participating in the
public space and the public order imposes a certain amount of
and that is to identify yourself."
Libertysurf.com, France's largest free Web hosting company,
measure would cripple its business with additional maintenance
send users elsewhere where registering contact information is
not a legal
requirement. After all, the Internet has no boundaries.
"It's clear that requiring us to validate users would make it
quasi-impossible," said Nenad Cetkovic, Libertysurf's marketing
The European Internet Service
Providers Association is unaware of
any similar legislation on the
Spokesman Joe McNamee says the
industry group hasn't taken a position
on the bill but also hasn't been
consulted and considers the measure
He said the bill, which would require Web users only to
electronic form, has many loopholes.
"We don't know where it begins and where it ends, we don't know
how it will
be enforced and we don't know who will be liable for
information that isn't
correct," said McNamee.
Technically, experts note, it's very simply for users to lie
Only through log files that register the unique Internet
computers on the Net can users be traced. Technically
or hackers, can even mask their origin.
Internet service providers also say the bill's wording is vague
specifying whether "publishing" on the Internet includes
newsgroups or chat areas, which are separate from the World
Chantepie said the law would apply only to Web pages.
kieran.colfer at ireland.sun.com
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