Aftenposten 15 April 2002
Internet harassment can be stopped in the following way

A new EU directive makes it possible to shut down web pages containing defamatory statements.

By Reidun J. Samuelsen

The host is liable. "A new directive, the so-called E-business Directive, orders web hosting providers to take greater responsibility for the web pages they host," says professor Jon Bing at the Norwegian Research Centre for Computers and Law at the University of Oslo.

If the web hosting provider is aware that the content may be illegal, he is automatically responsible for what may be found there. The new provisions are to be enacted in all European countries by February. When Aftenposten contacted Skymarket, the web hosting provider that hosts the web site containing information about the woman from Drammen, the site was closed in a matter of hours.

"The problem is of course that anyone wishing to use the internet to spread harassment can shift to another web hosting provider who is not familiar with the content on his pages. He may also find web hosting providers in countries who do not comply with the E-business Directive," says Jon Bing.

The professor is of the opinion that people themselves can make an effort to stop web pages by tracing the web hosting provider and inform him that a web site may be illegal. This is a far simpler process than going through the courts.

"It is difficult to shut down web sites overseas by means of a court ruling," says professor Bing.

Erik Moestue, a police lawyer at the computer crime centre in Økokrim, the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, says that the Norwegian authorities have no opportunity to grant orders in other countries.

Odd Einar Dørum, the Norwegian minister of justice, feels that this area requires attention. The government has commissioned the Computer Crimes Committee, which was appointed in January, to investigate whether the Norwegian Criminal Law's geographical scope is appropriately delimited as regards illegal material on the internet. The committee shall also consider whether the police have sufficient opportunity to demand that such material be removed from web sites.

Aftenposten 15 April 2002
Updated: 15 April 2002 00:14