The EU's top telecommunications official, Martin Bangemann, has caused concern after he called for an international charter to regulate the Internet at a telecommunications conference in Geneva last week.
Bangemann, who has made a name for himself as a hardliner in the battle against illegal activity on the Internet, said the charter should focus on issues to do with technical standards, illegal content, licenses, encryption and data privacy.
In his speech, he said: "The current situation may lead to the adoption of of isolated global rules with different countries signing up to different rules agreed under the auspices of different international organisations.
An international charter would provide a suitable answer."
Several newsgroups responded to the news with varying degrees of anger, mixed with caution. In addition, David Kennedy, chief executive at ISPA, said his organisation would give preference to a national body rather than an international one.
"The term supra-national body is what the EU is talking about," he said.
He believes the UK Internet industry would react negatively to a controlling body in Brussels. He said: "For that reason I would prefer a national body that could then talk to an international one."
But David Barrett, a spokesman for UUNET, did not think there was any cause for concern. "Bangemann's statement is ambiguous, but I think he is calling for all countries to get together to form a sort of super-body." Barrett said, adding: "I think he's saying all countries need to talk together on this."
As Kennedy has hinted, it may be difficult for the UK to accept rules and regulations coming from the EU in Brussels, when the UK has been working toward self regulation so succesfully. PC Week tried to speak to Bangemann but to no avail.
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