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THE INTERNET LAW AND POLICY FORUM WORKING GROUP ON CONTENT BLOCKING

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G. Material Reflecting National Or Cultural Attributes Mandated In A Broadcast Medium Or Banned As Contrary To The Culture's Interest.

Canada

In Canada, there are requirements that broadcasting services contain prescribed levels of Canadian content. In its Convergence Report entitled "Competition and Culture on Canada's Information Highway: Managing the Realities of Transition" of 19 May 1995, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC") acknowledged there is sufficient definitional ambiguity regarding what constitutes "broadcasting" as to warrant suitable legislative amendment. As a result, there is some uncertainty over the appropriateness of regulating new interactive multimedia services electronically delivered to consumers via the Internet.

Also, the Federal Government, in its Convergence Policy Statement of 6 August 1996, questioned the clarity of the current definitions as they relate to a coherent regulatory approach for new and emerging services. It committed to review the "complex legal, regulatory and legislative aspects of this issue with a view to providing future policy implementation guidance".

Further, the CRTC Chairperson stated in the fall of 1996 that the Commission has a role to play to ensure that Canadian content and Canadian producers have a presence on new modes of communication. This, she suggested, may mean a licensing requirement for ISPs, as they are responsible for bringing content into Canadian homes.

China

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has installed software to filter overseas Internet sites to remove content relating to anti-Communist information. The policy also bans the transmission of state secrets, information harmful to state security.

Cuba

According to Granma, the Cuban Communist Party's newspaper, rules are being put in place to regulate the Internet. It appears that most Cubans will not be allowed access, but Cuban authorities will allow access through a government licence available to ministries, the foreign press and Cuban-based businesses only. Cuban authorities claim the costs are too high for a free for all but it is generally believed that the government wants to prevent Cubans from reading anti-Castro material which circulates widely on the Internet.

France

There have been reports in the French press during December 1996 of Georgia Tech Lorraine, the European platform of the Georgia Institute of Technology, being sued in France for having its home page in English only and not in French. The law in France requires offers of goods or services to be in French as well as in any other language. The trial begins in January 1997 and the Court's ruling is expected on February 24,1997.

Iran

As was noted in Section A, the Iranian Government is concerned that its citizens do not access material offensive to their culture such as "The Satanic Verses".

Singapore

Singapore has adopted guidelines under the Singapore Broadcasting Authority Act 1996 applicable to service and content providers under which the Singapore Broadcasting Authority will not allow any content which "tends to bring the Government into hatred or contempt, or which excites disaffections against the government". Any sites banned by the regulator will have their access blocked by the service providers.

United Arab Emirates

The sole ISP, the state telecommunications company Etisalat, in the United Arab Emirates has introduced a service which censors WWW sites for breaches of local moral values and traditions. It will be compulsory for all of the 9669 subscribers, who were to have configured their web browsers by Feb 2 1997. This action was due to the concern about regulating access to the Internet to avoid the dissemination of pornography as well as religious and political material.

The service will block access to known and unwanted sites, with new unwanted sites being added regularly. Etisalat have warned that they will disconnect customers who abuse the service and violate the laws.

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