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GILC (Global Internet Liberty Campaign)
Paper of the second forum on an Internet that promotes non-commercial interests and solidarity

Adopted in Paris on November 27, 1999

A. Introduction
(by Andy Oram, CPSR)

Two years in a row, representatives from a number of "groups, associations, and trade unions" have met in Paris under the sponsorship of a group called IRIS to discuss policies that would create and preserve an "Internet that promotes non-commercial interests and solidarity." The final motion passed by the second forum, which took place on November 27, 1999, appears below. This document should interest people around the world who are concerned with access to information for all, even though a few of the statements touch on particular French laws. Some specific concepts are explained in notes.

B. Statement
(translated into English by Andy Oram, CPSR, reviewed by Meryem Marzouki, IRIS. CPSR and IRIS are both GILC members)

The assembly of groups, associations, and trade unions represented on November 27, 1999 in Paris at the second forum on an Internet that promotes non-commercial interests and solidarity, at their working session on the implementation of the recent law "concerning the information society," conclude the following:
- We observe that current government policies fail to deal with many societal aspects.
- We declare our attachment to the following principles.

1. Concerning online users' responsibility:

- Respect for individual and public liberties, guaranteed by the fundamental texts of national and international bodies, should prevail over all other considerations.
- The legal doctrine of "responsabilité en cascade" [1] is not applicable to public communication on the Internet. The authors of such communication are equally its editors on the Internet, outside of professional contributors where their employers are the editors.
- Only a judicial authority can determine the illegal character of content on the Internet. Outside of questions relevant to the protection of personal data, any other form of control should not be allowed, a priori or a posteriori, by technical intermediaries or by private or public organizations. The principle stated here rules out the idea of "autoregulation" or "coregulation".

2. Concerning the regulation of content on the Internet:

- The notion of the "moral obligation of content" (deontology) [2] makes no sense: there is no deontology except along the lines of a person's occupation, and such obligation is already exercized by professionals.
- The regulation of public content on the Internet should remain under the common rule of law, which guarantees liberty of expression and enumerates potential abuses precisely and in a strictly limited sense.
- Content labeling cannot be accepted except in a voluntary and positive manner. It cannot be imposed on the authors of Internet sites.
- The filtering of this content should remain the responsibility of the end users, or of their guardians in cases where the end users are not legally responsible.

3. Concerning the confidentiality and protection of personal data:

- The protection of fundamental rights of citizens takes place through the guarantee of confidentiality -- which includes the total liberalization of cryptography and the non-traceability of messages -- as well as by the strictest protection of their personal data.
- Each individual should have the power to use any means that he or she finds convenient to protect the confidentiality of his or her communications, without escrow of private encryption keys.
- No personal data should be stored without the knowledge of the parties concerned, or used without their express consent.
- The storage of data relating to individuals should not exceed one month in duration, like in the current case of video surveillance tape storage.

4. Concerning democratic control over police investigations:

- The fight against crime at the national, European, or international level should not be a pretext for weakening the fundamental rights of citizens.
- A parliamentary commission of inquiry, together with the European Parliament, should examine every organization and/or decree that can potentially weaken the protection of privacy and personal data. A body responsible for oversight should be put in place to assure follow-up for the results of the inquiry. In particular, the activities of Europol, such as systems for the interception of communications like ECHELON, should be subject to examination.

5. Concerning trade union rights and worker rights:

- Any illegitimate surveillance of workers should be heavily punished. The rights to exchange correspondence and to the privacy of this correspondence should be explicitly upheld.
- Trade union rights should be extended to the use of the Internet within enterprises and establishments, on the basis of the law of December 27, 1968 [3].
- A national debate should be opened over changes in working conditions caused by telecommuting and the information-driven transformation of society.

6. Concerning controls on advertising and unsolicited communications:

- Every message that is an advertisement or is predominantly advertising should be clearly marked as such.
- The reception of unsolicited communications should be subject to the express consent of the end users.
- Invasive forms of advertisement that disturb the reading of a site's editorial content should be prohibited.

7. Concerning traditional author's rights and the right to information:

- Traditional "author's rights" [4] should be preserved and respected.
- The right to information should be exercized through the concept of private copy, and the extension of this concept to that of fair use, or use for non-commercial purposes, education, and research.
- Access to public data without charge and to teleprocedures for conducting public services online should be extended.
- It should not be possible to patent ideas, which we define to include programming methods and algorithms [5].
- The production and use of free and open content and software should be encouraged and covered by public policy.

8. Concerning the democratization of Internet access:

- Universal service in telecommunications should be extended to include Internet access for all, along with a drastic reduction of local communication costs. Permanent, "always-on" connections should be promoted, with each individual capable of acting as an information provider.
- The assignment of domain names within ccTLDs controlled in France (such as .fr) and within authorized gTLDs (such as .org, .com, and .net) should be a public service, sold on a non-profit basis at rates affordable by individuals as well as groups.
- The democratization of Internet access requires the acquisition of a basic information and electronic education by all, so that each individual is competent to master social transformations in all their practical and civic aspects. This goal should be entered into the mission of public education, which can delegate it under certain circumstances to non-profit institutions having the same goal.

9. Concerning the struggle against commercialization:

- The exception to trade rules for cultural activities should be extended to all multifunctional [6] sectors, such as education and culture.
- The availability of services, utilities, and content for non-commercial use on the Internet contribute to this multifunctionality and to cultural diversity.
- The development of electronic commerce should not serve as a pretext for abandoning public services and the sovereignty of the state, notably in terms of fiscal revenues.

C. Explanatory notes

[1] "Responsabilité en cascade" or "chain liability" is a legal doctrine in the French Press law. Under this law, a publisher who publishes illegal statements (e.g., in case of defamation or libel) must be sued before the journalist who wrote the statements. The journalist cannot be the sole target of a lawsuit, and in some cases he cannot be made liable at all). The publishing editor assumes responsibility in any case. This doctrine is different from "vicarious liability," in that it is specific to the Press law, and in that it protects journalists and Freedom of Press.

[2] Deontology is the legal term for the ethical or moral obligations that certain professions impose on their practitioners; such requirements always depend on the particular conditions under which a profession does its work. But some legislators have been trying to extend the concept very broadly so as to create moral requirements for anyone putting content online.

[3] This law defines trade union rights and worker rights, like the right to meet and disseminate information inside company buildings, with special rooms set aside for workers' organizing work.

[4] Author's right is the principle behind French literary and artistic property. It differs from copyright in that moral and patrimonial rights rest with the author. Note: The concept of fair use isn't recognized in the French law.

[5] Algorithmic methods are theoretically unpatentable in Europe under the Munich Convention. In practice, software can be patented in some cases where they are considered processes.

[6] Multifunctionality is said to be a "European concept," which has been highlighted for the first time in the United States by NGOs who met in Seattle to stop WTO Millenium Round. Some sectors of activity are multifunctional in that they not only produce some commercial goods or services, but also ensure social cohesion, quality of life (taking care of environment), civic education, etc.: they are a social/political project as a whole, thus their multifunctionality. Examples of multifunctional sectors are Education, Culture, Agriculture, and Health.