Feeds

UK extends ecommerce directive to terrorism laws

A blog posting in Europe could land you in UK courts

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Regulations come into force this week that explain how and when a foreign company can be brought to justice in the UK over blog postings that encourage terrorism. The regulations integrate Europe's ecommerce laws with the UK's Terrorism Act.

The Electronic Commerce Directive (Terrorism Act 2006) Regulations 2007 were laid before Parliament on 31 May and come into force on 21 June.

The Terrorism Act 2006 is already in force. It created offences relating to the encouragement of acts of terrorism and the dissemination of terrorist publications. The Act contains a notice and takedown regime that applies to all website operators. If a person posts any remark to a blog that encourages an act of terrorism, a police constable can serve a notice on the operator of the blog requiring the removal of the offending post within two days.

Failure to comply within the two-day period, in the absence of "reasonable excuse", means the operator will be deemed to have endorsed the post and its directors could face up to seven years in prison.

The Terrorism Act made action against UK and companies in the European Economic Area (EEA) possible and Home Office Guidance of October 2006 described procedures that should be followed. The EEA member states comprise the 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Norway.

If, for example, a blog posting is deemed a threat to public security and a police constable asked the EEA member state to effect its removal and that state failed to do so, proceedings in the UK will be possible.

A Home Office spokesperson stressed to OUT-LAW that the new regulations do not extend the application of the Terrorism Act to service providers overseas beyond what is already possible under that Act. Instead, they restrict the circumstances in which this is possible, setting conditons that must be satisfied.

The regulations also extend certain protections of the E-commerce Directive to the Terrorism Act.

These protections apply to intermediaries acting as mere conduits or those that cache or host third party content. They were aimed at ISPs and website hosting companies. However, the UK's implementing rules, the E-commerce Regulations 2002, do not apply to legislation that postdates them and so the protections need to be given on a case-by-case basis.

This month's regulations add the protections of the E-commerce Regulations to the Terrorism Act. The protections are qualified. For example, hosting a user's offending content is not an offence provided it is removed or blocked expeditiously "upon obtaining actual knowledge that the information was unlawfully terrorism-related".

The Terrorism Act presented a significant challenge for operators of social networking sites or any others that encourage users' contributions when it was introduced. The notice and takedown regime goes further than the laws that control copyright infringements on websites because it also applies to any "repeat statement". That is defined in the Terrorism Act as a statement which "is for all practical purposes, to the same effect as the statement to which the notice related". The two-day time limit for removal of the statement will begin to run from the date of re-publication.

The Terrorism Act says a person is not deemed to endorse a repeat statement if he "is not aware of the publication of the repeat statement", or where he has taken "every step he reasonably could to prevent a repeat statement" becoming available to the public. However, the explanatory notes to the Act provide little guidance as to what is reasonable for the host of a website, blog or message board.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Application security programs and practises

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.