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RealTime IT News

Germans Petition EU Against Spam

Trade magazine c't magazin fuer computertechnik and the politically independent information and communication platform politik-digital are calling upon EU citizens to sign an anti-spam (unsolicited advertising via e-mail) petition.

politik-digital believes the Internet should be a democratic instrument allowing citizens to influence EU political decisions. The petition, available on its site in Dutch, English, French and German through March 24, calls for clear EU anti-spam legislation. It will be sent officially to the Law and Economics committee of the EU Parliament.

A current proposal for the EU Liability Directive will make it easier for Internet users to defend themselves against spam, but they will have to bear the cost of it. An advertising industry lobby looks as if it will succeed in defending its interests against the Internet users, in the view of politik-digital. The online petition now allows those concerned to address political decision-makers directly.

Lars Hinrichs, co-founder of politik-digital, has high expectations of the online petition system.

"In an increasingly networked democracy, politics should not only take place in capital cities," he said. "We are going to give the public the option of presenting their concerns online, thus giving the procedure an important political impetus."

The online petition system is from the Hamburg Media Production Company LAVA/iXL. Anyone wishing to sign it must first register with an e-mail address and then receive an individual access code.

Meanwhile in Brussels, according to the German "Freedom for Links" site, Big Brother is watching. The site is drawing Netizens' attention to a decision to authorize covert Internet monitoring by EU authorities.

A policy, known as ENFOPOL, will allow telecommunications surveillance without cause or suspicion and across borders, in contravention of the German constitutional right to freedom of information. The next ENFOPOL session among Justice and Interior officials in Brussels will take place on March 12, 1999. statewatch.org gives background on this topic.

"Freedom for Links" has set up an electronic petition to allow EU citizens to protest about this development to their representatives.