Norway: Net host removes Muhammad cartoons from client's site

The company providing internet hosting for Human Right Service had removed the Muhammad caricatures from their client's site.

The company, Imbera, think the cartoon of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban was insulting and they fear action and sabotage against their data servers.

According to Human Right Service spokesperson Hege Storhaug, the company reviewed their site, then went in and edite the site, removing the Muhammad cartoons.

According to the electronic trade law, internet providers are obligated to asses the content of sites they host. This means that more sites can get into this situation. News sites such as VG, Dagbladet, A-pressavisene and TV2 all have an external storage provider. Aftenposten and NRK have their own servers.

The consequences of the law can be that technicians decides why you can read on the net, says Jon Bing, professor of information law at Oslo University. Service providers are obligated to remove pictures and content if they know that something criminal is taking place, if they have an objective reason for it.

Bing thinks there is an objective reason in the case of the Muhammad cartoons. He says that the internet provider finds itself between a rock and hard place. They want to ensure themselves against reprisals both in the form of public punishment or compensation, but also in relationship to other clients.

Bing says that while the law is problematic since it requires those who offer storage services to decide on their own if something is criminal or not, which is a difficult assessment.

When the e-trade law was passed there was an internet committee which could advise if something was legal or not. The committee was disbanded because it did not receive enough support to be self-financing. Bing thinks that in such a case there should be an electronic form of the newspapers committee, since in some situations it's clear that freedom of speech suffers.

Bing says that the editors will be heard, but in principal those who run the storage services have the last word, until the courts have theirs.

General secretary of the Norwegian Press Association, Per Edgar Kokkvold, thinks that's unacceptable. He says that the most important thing is that there can be unimaginable consequences - also for editors who have external internet providers The law is one issue, but this joins in much of what we see around us. That forums, pictures and expressions are taken down or theater performances don't dare exhibit out of fear for extremists.

The e-trade law is built on an EU-directive. The intention was that the internet world should be able to regulate the content on the net. the EU has recently voted for a stricter directive, where the responsibility is laid even more clearly on the internet service providers.

The IT field doesn't like that. General secretary Pert Morten Hoff of IKT-Norway says that they will of course follow the law, but it's unreasonable to lay such responsibility on the service providers.

Source: NRK (Norwegian), h/t Dagens Ateist (Norwegian)


Anonymous said...

This effete action will be perceived as for what it is - weakness. It will be exploited as such. The message it sends is 'Yes, we can win through intimidation'.

So offer your gratitude to this ISP for encouraging future intimidation and extortion -- and also for emboldening the extremist grievance mongers.

Unknown said...

Sorry, it was not the ISP but the Web host/web design service. I thought it was strange myself, but I must have been tired when trying to figuring out what they meant.

Good news anyway, as the site got plenty of offers, and chose the offer of the company that hosts Jyllandsposten: Linpro AS

Esther said...

hi strappado,

You're right. I was trying to make the headline shorter and didn't realize the difference. I now fixed it.