Seriously, it seems like there are no political shortcuts: each
country will have to go through the entire paroxysm of hype and
hysteria on its own...
PS. Singapore recently passed some rules to go along with its
commitment to wire all homes by 2000... see below; they include a ban
on homosexual material.
> The government will hand out annual licenses to
> Singapore's three Internet providers, as well as to
> political parties that maintain Web sites, groups and
> individuals who run discussion sites on politics and
> religion, and on-line newspapers.
> Beginning Monday, these groups will be responsible for
> blocking out material deemed objectionable by the
> government. Violations will result in licenses being
German cabinet minister says Internet needs international controls
UNITED NATIONS - International standards for the Internet may be
necessary to prevent pornographers and neo-Nazis from using cyberspace
to circumvent national laws, Germany's minister for family affairs
"Because the Internet knows no national borders, we will be able to
protect youth only through international standards," said Claudia
Nolte, who was at the United Nations on Tuesday to discuss ways to
protect women and children from violence and sexual exploitation.
Nolte told reporters that while the Internet offered "many positive
opportunities" for exchanging information, the global computer network
could be abused by neo-Nazis and pornographers operating outside
She said the United Nations could play a role in developing
international standards to control such abuse.
Curbing the Internet is a controversial issue in the United States and
many other countries because of the potential for infringing on the
rights of free speech.
Last December, Bavarian state police searched CompuServe's networks
and computers for child pornography, but would not say what they
found. Arno Edelmann, a CompuServe product manager in Unterhaching,
Germany, said the company blocked access to 200 sex-oriented
newsgroups in a portion of the Internet called Usenet.
The move prompted a flurry of angry postings on CompuServe's in-house
message forums, and some German members said they would cancel their
subscriptions and seek direct, uncensored Internet access.
In February, German prosecutors said they were investigate a new joint
venture between America Online Inc. and Bertelsmann AG for providing
access to neo-Nazi material via the Internet.
The move followed similar proceedings against CompuServe, and Deutsche
Telekom AG's unit, T-Online, over providing access to the Holocaust
revisionist writings of Ernst Zuendel, a German immigrant living in
Publishing or distributing neo-Nazi or Holocaust denial literature is
illegal in Germany, but it is unclear how such laws can be enforced in
the free-for-all atmosphere of the Internet.
On July 1, the U.S. Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court
to lift an injunction blocking the Communications Decency Act,
designed to punish the display of offensive material on the
Internet. Three federal judges issued the injunction last month,
saying that the law violates constitutional freedoms of speech.
Singapore Sets Internet Rules
SINGAPORE - Singapore announced rules Thursday aimed at blocking
anti-government views and pornography on the Internet, adding to the
thicket of laws that regulate books, movies and public discussion
But authorities insisted the latest rules - one of the first attempts
by any country to screen the Internet - do not amount to censorship.
The government will hand out annual licenses to Singapore's three
Internet providers, as well as to political parties that maintain Web
sites, groups and individuals who run discussion sites on politics and
religion, and on-line newspapers.
Beginning Monday, these groups will be responsible for blocking out
material deemed objectionable by the government. Violations will
result in licenses being revoked.
"We are not censoring discussion groups. By registering these groups,
we are asking that they behave responsibly," said the Singapore
Broadcasting Authority, a governmental regulatory body.
The free-wheeling global computer link up has provided the Singapore
government a major dilemma.
Singapore promotes the Internet as part of its objective to make the
city of 3 million people the hub of high-tech industry. One in three
homes has a computer, and the number of Internet accounts doubled last
year to 100,000. A government plan calls for connecting each home to a
computer network by 2000.
But the Internet has also brought into Singapore what the government
had successfully kept out for years - criticism of the administration
and the judiciary, pornography and discussions on race and religion.
About 10 SBA officials will surf the net daily for objectionable
material. A government-appointed panel of prominent citizens will
decide what is objectionable, said Goh Liang Kwang, chief executive of
the Broadcasting Authority.
But he admitted that even with regulations, the SBA cannot completely
police the Internet.
"We don't claim we can regulate the Internet. We just don't want
objectionable material to be easily available. We want to keep our
immediate neighborhood clean," said Goh.
Still, a lot of rules remain vague.
Although political parties will need licenses, it is not clear if
individual politicians would be allowed to post anti-government views
on bulletin boards.
The SBA guidelines say it will not allow contents that "tend to bring
the government into hatred or contempt, or which excite disaffection
against the government." The definition of hatred or contempt has not
been spelled out.
The government will also ban:
* contents that jeopardize public security or national defense.
* anything that ridicules racial or religious groups.
* the promotion of religious deviations or occult practices.
* the "gross exploitation" of violence, nudity, sex or horror.
* the depiction of "sexual perversions" such as homosexuality.
All these are already banned from books, magazines, newspapers, movies
and public forums.