EU legislator claims Internet needs to be policed

Chicago (IL) – Conservative British MEP Malcolm Harbour has reiterated his support for government regulation of the Internet.

“Clearly the Internet has to be policed because it is being used for illicit activities such as terrorist activities, child pornography, child trafficking and so on,” Harbour told the European Union Parliament website. “The basic principle is that Internet always has to be a free Internet, but it is not completely regulation free.”

Harbour made his remarks ahead of a parliamentary debate over a new telecoms package, which aims to reform the existing European electronic communications framework.

The MEP also claimed that the telecoms package has “never been about anything to do with restrictions on the Internet” and explained that preventing access to certain website was to be “dealt with by national governments.”

“There is not a European prescription on this matter. For example, in France you cannot access a website that sells Nazis memorabilia; the French government decided that,” said Harbour.

In addition, Harbour emphasized that the proposed telecoms package makes it “absolutely clear that access[ing] the Internet is part of European citizen’s fundamental rights.”

As TG Daily previously reported, the European Union has increased its involvement in Internet regulation issues. Indeed, a senior European Union official recently demanded that the Obama administration relinquish its control over the Internet.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which operates under the auspices of the US Commerce Department, is tasked with regulating critical aspects of the Internet – including the assignment of domain names.

The current arrangement is expected to end in September 2009.

“I trust that President Obama will have the courage, the wisdom and the respect for the global nature of the Internet to pave the way in September for a new, more accountable, more transparent, more democratic and more multilateral form of Internet governance,” stated EU Commissioner Viviane Reding. “It is not defendable that the government department of only one country has oversight of an internet function which is used by hundreds of millions of people in countries all over the world.”

Reding proposed that the US allow monitoring by an independent legal authority, along with a group of 12 nations that would discuss online governance and security. The envisioned quorum of 12 would reportedly include representatives from North America, South America, Europe and Africa, Asia and Australia.