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Controlling Illegal and Harmful Content on the Internet (From Crime and the Internet, P 113-140, 2001, David S. Wall, ed. -- See NCJ-213504)

NCJ Number
Yaman Akdeniz
Date Published
28 pages
This chapter analyzes the regulation of Internet content in the United Kingdom and within the European Union.
The first section of the chapter profiles the problem of illegal and harmful content on the Internet. The second section reviews the British Government's approach to the problem, followed by an examination of the liabilities of Internet service providers. The remaining two sections of the chapter address the effectiveness of self-regulation as a constructive policy. This would involve such means as self-reporting hotlines and the development of rating and filtering systems. At the national level in Great Britain, it is now widely recognized that government cannot regulate the Internet, which is a global electronic environment. Although there has been pressure for the development of a partnership between the government and the Internet service providers, it is in the best interests of Internet users to build confidence and protect consumers in the information age. The rights of Internet users should be respected. There is a need for openness, accountability, and transparency regarding the debate on regulatory initiatives designed to control Internet content at the national level. At an international level within the Council of Europe, there should be more cooperation among police forces in dealing with computer-related crimes; however, the alignment of national criminal law in relation to the regulation of speech on the Internet is not feasible, due to the moral, cultural, economic, and political differences among member states. Rather than attempting to impose restrictions on what people can access on the Internet, self-regulation should be used. This means that Internet service providers, in cooperation with the government, should not be allowed to intrude upon a free use of the Internet except in cases of strong consensus, such as the display and dissemination of child pornography. 24 notes and 14 references