Tuesday, 20 May 2014
[names withheld for Chatham House purposes: Grrrr!] spoke in turn on reform of internet governance of surveillance. The first speaker raised (among other cases) the French Yahoo! litigation, of which many people today seem to have no knowledge, in which a French court ordered Yahoo! to take all available measures to prevent access of French internet users to a website hosted in the US and which sold Nazi memorabilia; a US court then refused to enforce the French court's order but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Yahoo! had to comply with the French order. This was really a conflict of jurisdiction case rather than one decided on the basis of internet law. How would a cybercrime convention have affected cases such as this -- or indeed last week's ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Google Spain? The latter affirms that EU law applies to Google and that individuals can ask search engine companies to remove them from search results even where the information is held on a web page and is not removed from it.
Further questions and comments were invited at this point, some of which related to discussion of a formal surveillance treaty with both substantive and procedural provisions. Another point, made with some force, was the problem of getting information at European level to trickle down to national legislators and to get them to engage with this subject at all (much the same applied to judges, it was also observed).