EU Weighs Rules to Force Web Content Removal

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By Alexis Kramer

Internet service providers may be required to remove content and shut down certain websites under draft EU rules approved March 21 by a European Parliament committee.

The draft measure, approved by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, would give national enforcement authorities in the European Union the power to track down fraudulent online sellers, inspect goods under a cover identity and order ISPs to shut down websites found to be hosting online scams.

“This regulation has a big potential to significantly strengthen cross-border cooperation between authorities in the area of enforcement of consumer protection laws,” Internal Market Committee rapporteur Olga Sehnalová, said in a statement. “As traders increasingly operate across the internal market, we need efficient mechanisms when something goes wrong.”

The draft rules reflect one of the European Commission’s e-commerce proposals under its Digital Single Market strategy, a regulatory framework designed to remove barriers between EU states and create uniform rules to promote innovation in the digital economy. The EU’s other e-commerce proposals seek to reduce obstacles to cross-border parcel delivery and access to internet content based on geographic location.

The initial proposed text of the measure was controversial, EU Parliament spokeswoman Isabel Nadkarni told Bloomberg BNA March 21. But the members agreed on “compromise amendments” that would limit officials’ power to order content removal or a website’s suspension “where there are no other means available,” according to a draft report obtained by Bloomberg BNA. Officials would be permitted to order the shutdown of a website or the deletion of a domain name only as a last resort under the amendments, the report said.

The European Council and Parliament must reach an agreement on the final text of the legislation for it to advance.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at aKramer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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