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UK Government internet censorship powers - The Electronic Commerce Directive (Terrorism Act 2006) Regulations 2007

The Labour Government seems to be set on its vague plans to try to censor the internet:

Statutory Instrument 2007 No. 1550
The Electronic Commerce Directive (Terrorism Act 2006) Regulations 2007

2007 No. 1550



The Electronic Commerce Directive (Terrorism Act 2006) Regulations 2007

Made 23rd May 2007
Laid before Parliament 31st May 2007
Coming into force 21st June 2007

This complicates the Terrorism Act 2006 sections 1 to 4,

Encouragement etc. of terrorism
Section 1 Encouragement of terrorism
2 Dissemination of terrorist publications
3 Application of ss. 1 and 2 to internet activity etc.
4 Giving of notices under s. 3

with the Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8th June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce).

This latest bureaucratic red tape issues forth, not from the usual suspects in the Home Office or the Treasury, but from

Margaret Hodge
Minister of State for Industry and the Regions Department of Trade and Industry
23rd May 2007

This threatens any provider of "information society services", either within the European Economic Area (i.e. the European Union plus a few neighbouring countries) , or outside of it, with up to 2 years in prison and / or fines.

There are Exceptions for Acting as a Mere Conduit and for Caching and for Hosting. i.e. almost blanket immunity for Internet Service Providers and Telecommunications companies.

However, there are some obvious questions:

  • How and when will a prosecution under these Regulations be proceeded with, rather than under the Terrorism Act 2006 section 3 itself, which carries a penalty of up to 7 years in prison and / or a fine ?

  • Why are these Regulations required at all ? The Exceptions to the Regulations in favour of the ISPs and Telcos only apply to prosecutions under these Regulations themselves, and simply do not apply to prosecutions under the Terrorism Act 2006 (which is not amended by these Regulations, and which has no provision for a Statutory Code of Practice).

    This is another example of a broken promise by Chancellor Gordon Browns , who claimed that he would reduce the burden of regulations on businesses.

  • It is still totally unclear how a genuine Terrorism Act Section 3 Notice by a Constable, can be distinguished from an improperly authorised or a fake "takedown" censorship notice which is used to maliciously harass and deny service to the innocent.

  • So where was the Parliamentary scrutiny and debate on these extraordinary powers of internet censorship, which claim worldwide scope ?

Where are the detailed Answers or even any debate or consultation, to our 17 Questions to European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini regarding censorship of allegedly terrorist websites, and the inevitable collateral damage to innocents ?

See our previous blog articles:

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