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European Commission takes on Net laws

The European Commission proposes rules to address various Internet laws.

The European Commission took a step today to control the rising number of Internet regulations being passed by member nations.

A plan proposed today would monitor the Internet by requiring European Union governments to inform the commission when they plan to adopt new Internet regulations, according to Reuters news service.

But the commission, the legislative body of the EU, avoided the most controversial issue of how those governments should try to control the distribution of pornography over the Net or if such controls are legal in Europe.

Instead of providing guidelines, the plan gives the commission and the Internet industry three months to comment on proposed legislation in any member nation before it takes effect. The governments could then be asked either to change or delay their measures.

Several European countries, most notably Germany and France, have already ventured into this murky legislative territory, mostly out of concern for regulating pornography, just as in the United States. Representatives of Internet service companies and major content providers have in response leaned on the commission to develop its own regulations that would cover all of Europe, instead of requiring the industry to adhere to different laws in each country.

But Mario Monti, EU internal market commissioner, told Reuters that the union is not ready to make such rules because it doesn't feel confident in assessing the Internet's influence in Europe. In addition to content regulation issues, the commission plans to hold a debate about social challenges on the Net, such as how to bridge the gap between the rich and poor online.

The commission will host a global conference on the information revolution in February to address these issues.

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