Confederation of European Computer User Associations

Confédération Européenne des Associations d'Utilisateurs des Technologies de I'Information
Position Paper
Bill of Rights


CECUA Discussion Paper
Issues concerning the proposed Dot eu TLD

CECUA has stated in its Position Paper on the proposed dot eu TLD that Europe now has the opportunity to set up a TLD that incorporates standards and practices, which will make cSpace, short for citizen's Space, a comfortable, secure and trustworthy place for business, pleasure and learning using the internet.

This is a very tall order - but it is necessary to address some fundamental issues arising from the development of global and regional Internet facilities.

The main areas are:

    1. Legal issues
    2. Enforcement issues
    3. Trade names
    4. Personal names
    5. cSpace

Legal Issues

The fundamental problem with global or regional domains is that they consist of groups of sovereign states that have their own separate and distinct legal structure and law enforcement systems.

This can lead to the situation that a legal activity in one country is not considered legal in another.

This means that service providers that serve the global market or regional markets can be prohibited from certain activities in one country that are legal elsewhere. To comply with these national rulings, the service provider would be required to offer a service which complies with the requirements of each of these countries resulting in the strictest law of any country applying to all the world's websites! The result would be a very restricted service which would benefit nobody.

Enforcement issues

The process of enforcement can be considered under three main headings, namely:

Detection of criminal activity
Identification of the perpetrator

The victim usually detects the crime or infringement. However, a major difficulty is that there is no internationally agreed definition of illegal activity on the Internet, and because of the differences between the laws of every country, what is legal in one country may not be legal in another. This can lead to the situation of a "criminal act" taking place in one country by a perpetrator in another country where the action is legal (or vice versa).

Should an attempt be made to set up an internationally agreed code of practice for the Internet which identifies acceptable and non-acceptable activity?

The identification of the perpetrator is mainly a technical issue which has been addressed (although highly skilled technicians are required to get the necessary evidence). However, there are instances where the provisions of Data Protection and Privacy legislation do impeded the process of identification - and the investigators do not have any special powers or privileges such as those held by the police.

Should investigators be given special powers or privileges? If so, what and who do they report to? Who controls the standards of investigation if at all?

The process of enforcement involves showing that a crime/infringement has been committed, punishing the perpetrator and ensuring that the activity is discontinued. This is usually done via the service provider and is disturbing in that the investigation, the "trial" and punishment is usually done by the same organisation. Small companies and individual citizen's have no real opportunity to challenge any judgements either with the ISPs or via the courts because of the lack of evidence and the high costs involved.

Should the ISPs and registrars be accountable to an international judicial body for enforcement? Should all these activities be done by independent organisations? How can small organisations and individual citizens get redress (at a price they can afford)? How can effective legal action be taken against the perpetrators of international crimes (fraud, personation etc.)?

Trade names

Organisations should be able to use their legally registered Trade Names without hindrance. There is no problem if their domain name is a ccTLD (country code TLD). However when using international TLDs, then there can be a conflict when the same Trade Name is legally registered by separate organisations in more than one country. Rules need to be set up so that it is possible by adding extra information, to distinguish between similar or identical Trade Names without infringing the rights of either party. The current practice of accepting registrations on a "first come, first serve" basis is unsatisfactory and simply leads to some legally registered organisations not being able to use their Trade Names in an international domain name (and of course encourages cyber squatting).

Surely it is possible to allow organisations to user their legally registered Trade Names by adding extra information to distinguish them?

Personal names

Individuals should also have the right to use their own names as part of a domain name. In fact their domain name could also be their life long address on the Internet - rather like a postal address in cyberspace. The problem is on a much bigger scale for personal names as there is a much greater chance of duplication. The use of a number to distinguish between individuals with the same name is technically very easy but totally unsatisfactory as it does not helping in trying to identify a particular individual. It is far better to use another way distinguishing individuals that is more friendly and useful. Further, citizens should be able to use the character set of their native tongue in domain names (an issue I believe is being pursued by China).

Surely it is possible to define a better method of distinguishing between identical personal names and to allow international character sets to be used in domain names?


CECUA has recommended that the Citizens of Europe should be able to work in a safe, affordable and comfortable Citizens' Space called cSpace. As with other issues, this is an easy concept, readily understood by many but what are the requirements of cSpace and how can they be implemented and controlled? How do we avoid the trap of controlling access to obscene, dangerous and illegal material without being accused of censorship? How do we protect Citizens from fraud, cyber crime etc. How do we police cSpace? Should the Registry have sole authority to lay down and administer acceptable standards of behaviour in cSpace. If not, who should?