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Most existing EU regulation regarding filtering overlaps with or supplements the existing policies of individual states.
The EU maintains a liberal regional policy toward ISPs, limiting their liability under the Electronic Commerce Directive,7 however, member states have been inconsistent in applying the directive.The Safer Internet Program, passed in 2005, aims to give the EU broader powers and new tools to achieve these goals itself.Among other things, the 2005 program funded hotlines for citizens to report offending content, sponsored education efforts on consumer and data protection, and authorized new studies into filtering technology for illegal content.4 Two European directives may form the basis of expansive legislation regulating the Internet in the coming years.The Electronic Commerce Directive limits the liability of online providers for transferring, caching, and hosting illegal content.5 The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), meanwhile, aims to extend current EU regulation for broadcast television content to the Internet.6 The regulations include, among other things, the right of member states to sue content providers living outside their jurisdictions and the responsibility to make harmful content inaccessible to minors.Because the AVMSD was passed only in 2008, it remains unclear whether or not the directive applies to all Internet video content, or just on-demand programming sent over TCP/IP.Unlike in other parts of the world, however, the Internet in Europe is regulated to a large degree through the coordinated action of states, usually through the processes of the EU.
As European governments look to harmonize their cyber-law policies over the coming years, they will increasingly turn to the EU to decide what to regulate and how to regulate the Internet.
Countries, whether members of the 27 member European Union (EU) or otherwise, have all regulated the Internet in some way, with a number of them censoring defamatory speech or monitoring copyright infringement.
Meanwhile, ICT firms have taken it upon themselves to censor child pornography and hate speech.
In contrast to other countries, the Web sites were filtered not because of displaying pornographic content but in order to guarantee the privacy rights of suspects or criminals who committed sexual offenses against children and whose identity was accordingly revealed in the targeted Web sites.18 In addition to filtering directed by governments, ISPs and search engines within countries have often taken it upon themselves to monitor and filter controversial content.
Often, these companies have decided to self-regulate in order to preempt government regulation.
The Safer Internet Program adopted by the EU Council of Ministers intends to protect minors from illegal and harmful content online, in particular, ‘‘child sexual abuse material, grooming and cyber bullying.’’ This program will operate from 2009 to 2013 and cost EUR 55 million.1 Part of the program involves the development of tracking technologies that will monitor child pornography and help build a Europol database of illegal online behavior.2 This program is the latest in a series of related initiatives introduced by the EU.