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 Words in the News
 Following the internet babies for sale scandal, BBC News Correspondent Stephen Gibbs reports on the question of how to regulate the Internet.
  AudioListen to the report in full

25th January 2001

Regulating the Internet

 AudioListen to the first part of the report
  The fact that nobody owns the internet means that regulating is problematic. But that hasn't stopped governments from trying. Where they've had some success is in controlling the internet's use, within their own territories.

In the United States, for example, a law was passed last year requiring schools and libraries to install software on their computers, to block material deemed harmful to the young. In Britain, the police now have legal access to private e-mail and other online communications. In South Korea, access to online gambling sites is banned.

regulating: controlling

problematic: something that is difficult is problematic

their own territories: their individual countries or regions.

requiring: if you are required to do something you have to do it

: put a computer program onto a computer

block material deemed harmful
: restrict access to material people have decided is not suitable for children

legal access to private e-mail: the right of the police to look at people's private emails

NEWS 2  AudioListen to the second part of the report
  But attempting to prosecute the providers, as opposed to the users, of material on the net to which individual governments object has proved much more difficult. The first problem is who is responsible for the material: the original author - who may be impossible to trace, or the Internet service provider, who may be unaware of what is being posted on its site?

Then there's the difficulty of attempting to legislate across national boundaries. Whose law should apply? The law of the country where the data is stored, or where it is accessed? International bodies from the World Intellectual Property Organisation to the European Union hope to provide definitive answers to these questions; but in the meantime much of the Internet will remain unrestrained.

attempting to prosecute: trying to bring criminal charges against someone

as opposed to: rather than

responsible: the people who are in control or in charge

Internet service provider: a company that gives access to the internet

legislate: make a law

World Intellectual Property Organisation: (WIPO) an international organisation dedicated to protecting the rights of writers, musicians and other artists

unrestrained: not controlled or limited in any way

  Read about the background in BBC News Online

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