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Parliamentary questions
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26 October 2010
E-8802/2010
Question for written answer E-8802/2010
to the Commission
Rule 117
Marietje Schaake (ALDE) , Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE) , Alexander Alvaro (ALDE) and Nadja Hirsch (ALDE)

 Subject: Internet blocking and child pornography
 Answer in writing 

The Commission funds CIRCAMP (the COSPOL Internet Related Child Abusive Material Project). CIRCAMP is aimed at combating the organised commercial distribution of documented child sexual abuse, often referred to as ‘child pornography’. However, it promotes the introduction and use of Internet blocking across Europe. The blocking undertaken is at ‘domain’ level, so that domain names (such as www.yahoo.com) would be blocked as a result of, for example, just one page containing one illegal image. On its website, CIRCAMP boasts of what it considers to be the positive impact of the indiscriminate blocking of websites at domain level: ‘If a domain owner places, accidental or willingly, child abuse material on his/her domain, and it is blocked by the police, the blocking will not be lifted until the material is removed. We believe that this will motivate content providers on the Internet to actively make an effort to avoid files with child sexual abuse on their systems/services.’ http://circamp.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11:circamp-overview&catid=1:project&I

It is worth pointing out that content providers and domain owners are very often not the same people/companies — for example, a blog provider will own the domain, while the bloggers will be the ‘content providers’.

All providers of services enabling the public to post material are therefore faced with a situation whereby their services can, without warning or due process, be blocked. Furthermore, this blocking can be imposed without any clear means of appeal or clear lines of responsibility. As a result, for those businesses that are large enough to afford it, the only safe approach available is to treat this threat as a general obligation to monitor — not merely for illegal material, which they are not trained to judge, but for any material at risk of being considered illegal.

1. Can the Commission explain why it is financially supporting this de facto ‘general obligation to monitor’, contrary to the purpose of the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC(1))?

2. Furthermore, the blocking of entire domains inevitably leads to the blocking of legal material. Indeed, the above quotation from the CIRCAMP website appears to present this as a virtue. Could Commissioner Malmström explain how this deliberate blocking of legal material through indiscriminate domain blocking is in line with her statement that she would ‘personally strongly oppose’ the blocking of anything other than child abuse material (http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/archive /Speech%20%20Malmstrom%20-%20Combating%20sexual%20abuse%2006_05_2010.pdf)?

(1)OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.

 OJ C 265 E, 09/09/2011
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