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ISPA wins changes to EU ecommerce directive

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The UK's Internet industry is claiming a partial victory after securing key amendments to new ecommerce regulations coming into force later this month.

ISPA - the trade association for Internet Service Providers in the UK - lobbied Government in an attempt to remove certain ambiguities contained in earlier drafts of the European Union E-Commerce Directive, which becomes UK law on August 21.

Prior to the changes secured by ISPA, the Government's draft regulations had suggested that UK providers of Internet services were subject to the laws of each member state of the European Union.

ISPA believes that the "Country of Origin" principle - as it is known - gives those engaged in ecommerce a legal certainty that they will only be subject to UK law, rather than the law of every Member State of the EU.

Elsewhere, ISPA claims the draft regulations were also ambiguous concerning the civil and criminal liability of service providers which transmit, cache or host third-party content.

ISPA claims these ambiguities have now been removed and ensure that service providers benefit from the same limited liability in both civil and criminal matters.

However, ISPA is still concerned that the new regulations fail to outline a formal procedure for the removal of illegal content (aka "notice and takedown").

Said Nicholas Lansman, Secretary General of ISPA UK: "It is crucial for the development of the UK Internet industry that the E-Commerce Directive is accurately interpreted and implemented the UK Government."

But he warned that formal procedures governing the removal of illegal material (notice and takedown) need to be developed to further clarify the rights and
responsibilities of service providers.

The aim of the Directive is to ensure the free movement of information society services across the European Community.

It's designed to promote greater use of e-commerce by breaking down barriers across Europe and boosting consumer confidence by clarifying the rights and obligations of businesses and consumers. ®

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