European ISPs want the European Union to step in over a French court's decision that Yahoo must stop French web surfers from accessing its US auction pages.
The European ISP Association (EuroISPA) has asked Antonio Vitorino, the EU Commissioner for justice and home affairs, for an urgent review of the case.
Last month, French judge Jean-Jacques Gomez rejected claims by Yahoo that it was technically unable to block French visitors to parts of the US site selling Nazi material, and was therefore unable to comply with the court's ruling, first ordered in May in a case brought under French anti-hate speech laws.
He gave Yahoo three months to block access to auctions containing Nazi paraphernalia on the Yahoo US site, or face a fine of 15,000 euros per day. Yahoo had already blocked access to this type of content on its French site.
However, EuroISPA believes the decision is contrary to new EU laws on ecommerce.
"The recently adopted European directive on electronic commerce is quite clear," EuroISPA said in a statement. "That directive, supported by the French government, removes liability from intermediaries who act only as a 'mere conduit' for access to information and, crucially for privacy and freedom, removes the requirement to actively monitor internet traffic.
"France has been closely involved in the drafting of that directors, but presently a French court has contradicted this position. The European Commission must ensure that the French government lives up to its obligations under the directive."
Experts have warned that this, and similar legal cases, may drag on for some time.
"It is not a case of good or bad, right or wrong. It is a legal point and local law still applies even on the internet," said Alexander Drobik, vice-president of business management at analyst Gartner.
"The internet hare has been caught by the legal tortoise - and it has quite vicious claws," he added.
Additional reporting by Andy McCue, Computing
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