FC: More on what Yahoo ruling in France means to businesses

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From: karee (karee@tstonramp.com)
Date: Wed Nov 29 2000 - 10:46:17 PST

[This sets an interesting trend as far as jurisdiction goes. -bb]

[I've talked about this at some recent conferences: If this is a trend
continues, or broadens, it will leave globe-spanning corporations like
Yahoo at a competitive disadvantage. Since they have physical presence
assets in France, they can't afford to ignore a court order. But a
more specialized site that's in only one nation can thumb its nose at
censorhappy foreign officials. In fact, back in 1995-1996, I mirrored on
web site material that was illegal in France, Germany, and Zambia, among
others. No repercussions yet. --Declan]


>From: "Jones, Greg" <greg.jones@qci.net>
>To: "'declan@well.com'" <declan@well.com>
>Subject: RE: What Yahoo ruling in France means, from Silicon Alley
>Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 11:54:37 -0500
>X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
>The implications of this ruling are pretty staggering.
>The ruling gives an American company the responsibility for the actions
>French citizens in accessing material that is proscribed there, but not

>here. If a book store in New York sells a French national a copy of
>Kampf, and that foreign citizen takes the book back to France, won't
>ruling be applicable in making the book seller guilty of violating the
>French law forbidding racist speech? Or more aptly, won't this ruling
>potentially make the landlord of the bookstore guilty of the violation,

>since Yahoo may only be the access to the material, and not it's actual

>retail source.
>The most disturbing element of this ruling, to me, is the assignment of

>guilt, of illegality, to Yahoo in the United States for the behavior of

>French nationals in France. Isn't this a contravention of
international law
>in that it attempts to override the sovereignity of American law within
>own borders? Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez' jurisdiction must be limited to

>ruling against any French nationals who are violating their own laws
>seeking to acquire material that is proscribed there.
>By reducio ad absurdum argument, in order to comply with this ruling,
>must deport and forever bar any French national from entering the
>States, to ensure that we do not provide them with access to such


>Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 12:10:16 -0500
>From: Bennett Todd <bet@rahul.net>
>To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
>Subject: Re: What Yahoo ruling in France means, from Silicon Alley
>User-Agent: Mutt/1.2.4i
>What I find bizzarrely puzzling is why Yahoo is worrying about
>keywords. Seems like the most reasonable and balanced response
>would simply be to block all connections from .fr sites, and all
>connections from IP addrs whose netblocks can be shown to reside
>within France, to all of yahoo.com. Have the webserver screen on
>whatever http headers it finds with domainnames (e.g. referrer), and
>have a background process (on a separate server, with separate
>internet connectivity) doing reverse DNS lookups on IP addrs of
>connecting clients, and updating router blocks when
>previously-unblocked .fr sites are found. The implementation cost
>should be a lot cheaper than trying to restrict access to only parts
>of the site.
>For a fancier handling, instead of simply dropping the traffic at
>the router, they could route it to a server that simply states the
>facts of the case, how France has decided that Yahoo needs to be
>obliged to prevent its citizens from accessing their site,
>presumably for their own good.


>Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 09:04:25 -0800
>From: "Maurice Tate" <TATEM@hdcdojnet.state.ca.us>
>To: <declan@well.com>
>Subject: Re: FC: What Yahoo ruling in France means, from Silicon Alley
> Daily
>A couple of thoughts:
>BB:"[These] kinds of decisions, rulings, can be interpreted as the
>beginning of an ID card on the Web, possibly to identify people
>wherever they are and to create a new kind of identification on the
>Internet. And that is something that can be very disturbing in the
>long run.
>"Even now, there is a cultural shock between Europeans and Americans
>on freedom of speech. In France we do have rules, regulations and laws
>that prevent such kind of content to be distributed on the Internet.
>Fine, Professor. But why should I, as an American, care what laws
>has, or why they have them? They *do not apply to me*. I am not in
>nor are Yahoo's servers. It seems to me that the French are responsible
>the enforcement of their laws, where they apply. In France.
>BB:"[Freedom of speech] is important to American people, I understand
>At one time, I thought we could have a kind of collision between those
>two rules. We are deeply rooted in France on those issues. And what we
>say about Americans, about religion and content, about World War II,
>the Holocaust, the Shoah [is that] they don't know what it's like to
>be invaded on their ground, so to prevent some kind of content to be
>distributed, they don't have the same view.
>Indeed we don't. Freedom of speech is not just important to Americans,
>it's damn near a religion. I, as an American citizen, manifestly have
>the absolute, god-given right to think and speak as I please, with only

>minor exceptions in cases where that speech might directly cause injury

>to others. And even that exception is limited. The famous example of
>yelling "fire!" in a crowded theatre is *not* illegal if there actually

>is a fire, although both cases would probably result in almost
>levels of casualties. Truthfulness counts.
>The French court is asking me to accept the premise that French
>would be injured by the mere viewing of Nazi artifacts on a website.
>I do NOT accept that premise, and I utterly reject the court's supposed

>jurisdiction. Judge Gomez can (in the vernacular) take a flying leap.
>He may, if he chooses, order French citizens not to access the
>site, and penalize them for disobedience, but he has *no* power over
>site itself, nor over me.
>Admittedly, the US is a big perveyor of the questionable itself.
>American courts have an annoying habit of extending their jurisdiction
>to foreign persons and places, as for example in the Lockerbie bombing.

>That's wrong too, in my opinion. But perhaps more understandable, since

>American citizens were killed in that attack.
>Who exactly was killed by viewing a "classic 1939 Hitler Youth Dagger"?

>Yours, etc -
>M.D. Tate


>From: "D Whitehorn-Umphres" <dawumail@progarts.com>
>To: <declan@well.com>
>Subject: RE: What Yahoo ruling in France means, from Silicon Alley
>Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 23:19:00 -0800
>X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook IMO, Build 9.0.2416 (9.0.2911.0)
>Importance: Normal
>What?!? Boy, they's sho' nuff sophisticated, que no?
>French Weasel-Unit says, "And what we say about Americans, about
>religion and content, about World War II, the Holocaust, the Shoah [is
>that] they don't know what it's like to be invaded on their ground, so
>to prevent some kind of content to be distributed, they don't have the
>same view."
>Oh, right. Except for: the First Nations peoples, Americans descended
>from slaves, the Irish, a dozen religions, Jews (duh), Mexicans in what

>is now New Mexico, everyone in the South (black and white), Texans
>(black, white, brown, etc.), ... Gaahhhh...they just don't get it, or
>If I only spoke French I'm sure I'd be able to come up a some other
>than "idiot" for this kind of idiocy. (Irony intentional.) Culture is
>what people do, not what some group of people-hating academics say it
>should be. Fortunately for the 'net, these people will get routed
>around in a jillion ways in about two seconds.
>On a more serious subject, if I sell some German a collection of GIFs
>with "Mein Kampf" steganographically embedded within it, what's the
>-D Whitehorn-Umphres
>p.s. Thanks for your good work and excellent writing. It's a rare
>when I don't find something that needs forwarding to all my friends
>(those who don't already subscribe).



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