(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)
The Romanian Authority for Communication (ANC) requested ISPs last week to block the access to 40 websites hosted in Romania, considering they don't meet the criteria imposed by article 7 of Law no.196/2003 on preventing and fighting pornography.
Article 7 of the law states that "the natural and legal persons creating pornographic sites are obliged to password them, and the access to these will be allowed only after paying a fee per using minute, established by the creator of the site and declared at the fiscal bodies."
However, five years later after the law was adopted, no specific fee is foreseen in any normative act.
According to the ANC press release, its investigation revealed that "these websites, hosted in Romania, did not observe the legal requirements on access granted by a password (in most cases, even the minimum warning on the age of persons allowed to access them was absent) and did not request the payment of a fee per minute of use."
ANC President Liviu Nistoran declared that the list would not be made public, "to avoid encouraging their accessing in the following period; however, we will ensure that the access to such websites is blocked." Internet providers are obliged to block users' access to the respective websites within 48 hours. Failure to block users' access is punishable by fines applied by the Police ranging from 10 000 to 50 000 RON (approx. 2500 - 12500 Euro).
As revealed by online newspaper Hotnews, the list was copied from a complaint submitted by a phisical person on 28 November that contained 46 websites. Until 2008 only nine complaints were received on this law and just one website was blocked for a short period in 2005 (newspaper Atac).
A scanned version list sent to the ISPs became available online at the end of last week on several blogs. The list contained a well-known User Generated video-sharing website (220.ro) , another domain name was just a redirect to a .com website and a lot of websites hosted on some free hosting accounts based in Romania.
The owners of some blocked websites complained about the decision and stated that they would take ANC to court since they were not informed by the Authority about any problems related to their websites which comply to the law. Since the blockage was made on the IP addresses, some websites just changed their IP in order to become available again. It is also unclear how a website could get off the list, since ANC claims there is no such procedure in place.
But the blocking system caused other legal websites to be blocked as well, with no official information on why this was happening. It is clear that only part of the over 1000 ISPs in the country implemented the measure requested by ANC, according the various reports from users from all over the country.
The measure to block access to websites via the ISPs was characterised by EDRi-member APTI Romania and other national civil liberties groups and ISP associations as a very dangerous measure and a direct attack to the freedom of expression. They have asked in a public letter to ANC the immediate revocation of the list, as an illegal and useless measure.
The civil society representatives explained to ANC there was a possibility, under the e-commerce law, to ask the owners of the respective web pages to comply with the law requirements by giving them an appropriate period of time to do so or even to fine them directly, without appealing to the ISPs for a illusory measure. They concluded that the present measure is just a censorship act, without providing any benefits to the a Safer Internet for children.
ANC Demands Blocking the Access to 40 Pornographic Websites (11.12.2008)
Telecom Referee asks blocking 40 pornographic websites. Only nine complaints
in the past 2 years (only in Romanian, 13.12.2008)
220.ro on the ANC blacklist (only in Romanian, 13.12.2008)
Number of visitors for 220.ro in the past days
Public letter to ANC - Blocking 40 websites for your safety ?! (only in Romanian, 17.12.2008)
Law on fighting and combatting pornography 196/2003(only in Romanian)