FC: Compuserve executive indicted for carrying Usenet newsgroups (fwd)

Boy, Germany has been active lately!

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Reuters / April 16, 1997
   MUNICH, Germany--German prosecutors said yesterday they have indicted
   the managing director of the German unit of commercial online service
   CompuServe in connection with distributing pornography over the
   In a move that could be a test case in the power of public authorities
   to regulate the global computer network, Bavarian prosecutors said the
   CompuServe manager was being charged with aiding in the distribution
   of child pornography.
   Compuserve officials in Munich said the company was preparing a
   statement to be issued later in the day.
   The indictment was issued on February 26 but was not made public until
   yesterday. The announcement does not name the CompuServe executive who
   has been indicted but the managing director of CompuServe's German
   subsidiary is Felix Somm.
   CompuServe spokesman Steve Conway confirmed that Somm was indeed the
   official who was indicted. Conway added that German authorities are
   putting CompuServe in the impossible situation of having to censor the
   Internet. "People can get to what's on the Internet," he said, adding
   that CompuServe does not have a lot of control over content unless it
   blocks sites entirely. CompuServe does allow members to individually
   screen content using CyberPatrol.
   The charges follow an investigation that began at the end of 1995,
   when prosecutors forced CompuServe to shut down access to more than
   200 Internet news groups, some of which were suspected of displaying
   pornographic images of children. Child pornography is illegal in
   Despite widespread doubts about the liability of online services for
   content on their network, the Bavarian prosecutors believe such
   services should be held responsible when writings or images outlawed
   in Germany but on computers somewhere else in the world are made
   accessible to Germans through the Internet.
   The prosecutors said the charges raised against the CompuServe
   director include violations of youth protection laws and laws against
   child pornography.
   They cited transmission of images of violent sex, sex with children,
   and sex with animals, which the prosecutors said the CompuServe
   manager could have prevented from being distributed over the company's
   network in Germany.
   The indictment also includes charges against the CompuServe executive
   for allowing a computer game to be transmitted over the company's
   network that includes photographs of Adolf Hitler and Nazi party
   symbols such as the swastika, which are not allowed to be displayed
   publicly in Germany.


This list is public. To join fight-censorship-announce, send
"subscribe fight-censorship-announce" to majordomo@vorlon.mit.edu.
More information is at http://www.eff.org/~declan/fc/