EC Crypto Policy

Anonymous nobody at REPLAY.COM
Tue Aug 5 04:38:49 PDT 1997

     EC Ministers Draw Up European Online Policy 

     August 5, 1997

     Newsbytes : by Steve Gold. 

     Following on from a conference held in Germany last
     month, representatives from 39 European countries have
     signed a declaration calling for the free flow of information. 

     The event, held between July 6-8 in Bonn, was called "Global
     Information Networks: Realizing the Potential," and was
     attended by 39 European ministers, as well as European
     Commission (EC) representatives from Japan, Russia, the US
     and Canada. 

     At the event, ministers focused on two main issues:
     encryption, and the censorship of illegal material such as child
     pornography on the Internet. 

     The declaration notes that there are a number of important
     differences between US and Europe on encryption and
     information privacy. 

     According to MacRoberts, the Edinburgh, Scotland-based
     information technology (IT) law firm, the declaration may not
     go down too well in US circles, since it is conceivable that
     the EC may block US-based businesses from conducting
     electronic commerce on the Internet. 

     According to officials with MacRoberts, this could result in
     European becoming isolated, rather than the EC teaching the
     US a lesson. 

     According to MacRoberts, the Bonn declaration calls for the
     free flow of information, whilst protecting the privacy of
     data, and a clear division of legal responsibility between the
     creators of Internet content and access providers, network
     operators and other intermediaries. 

     In addition, the declaration calls for the recognition of the
     necessity of strong encryption technology, to facilitate
     electronic commerce subject to "applicable law," and the
     introduction of consumer protection through self- regulation. 

     According to Joanna Noag-Thomson, an associate in
     MacRobert's Intellectual Property and Technology Law
     Group, the declaration deals with many of the issues in
     President Clinton's "Framework for Global Electronic
     Commerce" and, while the US and Europe appear to agree on
     many fundamental issues, important policy differences
     continue to exist, particularly in the areas of information
     privacy and encryption. 

     "The European stance on encryption is to be commended --
     the European Ministers' view is more commercially
     acceptable in that it recognizes that electronic commerce
     requires strong encryption technology," she said. 

     "At the same time, it recognizes that measures to restrict
     encryption should be proportionate At present, the US and
     Europe appear to have different views on what constitutes
     `proportionate' restrictions," she added. 

     According to Boag-Thomson, the EC has warned that, unless
     the US provides adequate protection of personal information,
     it may block any US-based entity from conducting electronic
     commerce on the Internet. 

     "The EU Data Protection Directive forbids data flow to
     countries outside the EU which do not offer adequate
     protection of personal information. Although data protection
     is extremely important, I hope that we in Europe will not find
     ourselves isolated from the rest of the world and that a
     solution to this problem can be found," she said. 

     (19970804/Press Contact: Joanna Boag-Thomson
     +44-141-332-9988; Fax +44-141-332- 8886; E-mail:
     joannab at

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