Compuserve 'temporarily' suspends access to nearly 300 Internet

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 27 Dec 95 15:53:58 -0500


I >'d the interesting, presumably PICS-related part.


By Charles Cooper

Compuserve has temporarily suspended access to as many as 300 Internet news
groups, bending to a request from legal authorities in Germany.

The online service company said that the vast majority of the forums dealt
with hardcore sexual content that is illegal to distribute to minors in
Germany. Some of the forums also contained material that contained copyright
violations, according to a spokesman.

Compuserve's decision to suspend access arose in connection with an ongoing
investigation by the German prosecutor's office into materials on the Internet
that may be contrary to German law.

Earlier this year, Compuserve also temporarily suspended access to some
forums, again in response to a request from German officials. A spokesman for
the company today said that Compuserve hoped to lift the suspension "as soon
as possible" but was unable to offer a firmer timetable.

"We're not altering any content on the Internet. We don't control it, we
don't put it there, and don't pull it down," said the spokesman, Jeff Shafer.
"We need to comply with German law in the same way that we need to comply with
U.S. law or any of the other markets we are in."

However, Shafer said that Compuserve did not suspend access to every forum
the Germans complained about.

"There were about 20 or 30 newsgroups that we felt we had we had a strong
enough case not to remove," he said, adding that Compuserve officials examined
the content contained in each newsgroup.

> Compuserve operates in more than 140 different countries.
> The service is working on developing a way to enforce
> country-specific suspensions, a solution that would avoid
> angering users in countries with looser definitions of
> objectionable material. At the same time, Compuserve
> plans to introduce a new Internet screening technology
> "within in the next couple of weeks."
> "In the meantime, we'll take them on a
> situation-by-situation basis," said Shafer. "I can't tell
> you what would happen in a future situation, because we
> don't know. One of the real challenges with this issue
> is that the Internet is a global community, and we're
> affected by different laws in different communities.
> "We hope to be able to restore access to as many of these
> groups as possible--and as soon as possible," Shafer
> continued. "It all depends on the legal situation in
> Germany."

A spokesman for the Germany consulate was not immediately available.