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The district court of Oslo has ruled that Scandinavian ISP and telco Tele2 is legally liable for distributing pictures containing child porn and other indecent images in its newsgroups.

Tele2 was fined a hefty NOK 500,000 ($63,500) by the Norwegian court, reported Scandinavian Web site Digi.no.

Markus Takte, Tele2's CEO in Norway, says the company will appeal this 'absurd' ruling. He claims that he is merely a distributor of the content and not publisher - and therefore cannot carry the same responsibilities as a publisher.

However, the ruling appears to have caused at least one ISP to think again. Telenor - one of Tele2's competitors - immediately shut down all its newsgroups that it thought may have contained indecent pictures.

The Norwegian authority Okokrim - a law enforcement agency for white collar crimes - is reported as saying that the move by Telenor was an over-reaction.

However, Okokrim consider the ruling against Tele2 as the right outcome.

The ruling has also caused quite a stir in Sweden, (Tele2 is a Swedish company). The ruling - if not changed upon appeal - may lead to a situation where the ISPs are forced to lessen interactivity in the networks and apply a cable operator business model to
their systems - rather like AOL. Hence, the Internet runs a risk of being split up into small islands with decreased interactivity between the networks. The latter effect is commonly referred to as 'splinternet'.

Mikael Pawlo is a Swedish lawyer who specialises in Internet regulation. His website is here.

Related links

Case report by Digi.no (in Norwegian):
Digi.no on the Telenor shutdown (still Norweigan
Digi.no on Okokrim's reaction to the shutdown (You guessed it)

Splinternet theory
It's bloody hard to run a forum (in Sweden)

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