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Declaration on freedom of communication on the Internet

Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 28 May 2003 at the 840 th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies

Principle 3 Absence of prior state control

Public authorities should not, through general blocking or filtering measures, deny access by the public to information and other communication on the Internet, regardless of frontiers. This does not prevent the installation of filters for the protection of minors, in particular in places accessible to them, such as schools or libraries.

Provided that the safeguards of Article 10, paragraph 2, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms are respected, measures may be taken to enforce the removal of clearly identifiable Internet content or. alternatively, the blockage of access to it, if the competent national authorities have taken a provisional or final decision on its illegality.

Principle 6 Limited liability of service providers for Internet content

Member States should not impose on service providers a general obligation to monitor content on the Internet to which they give access, that they transmit or store, nor that of actively seeking facts or circumstances indicating illegal activity.

Member States should ensure that service providers are not held liable for content on the Internet when their function is limited, as defined by national law, to transmitting information or providing access to the Internet.

In cases where the functions of service providers are wider and they store content emanating from other parties, member States may hold them co-responsible if they do not act expeditiously to remove or disable access to information or services as soon as they become aware, as defined by national law, of their illegal nature or, in the event of a claim for damages, of facts or circumstances revealing the illegality of the activity or information.

When defining under national law the obligations of service providers as set out in the previous paragraph, due care must be taken to respect the freedom of expression of those who made the information available in the first place, as well as the corresponding right of users to the information.

In all cases, the above -mentioned limitations of liability should not affect the possibility of issuing injunctions where service providers are required to terminate or prevent, to the extent possible, an infringement of the law.