Sites Protest Spain's Net Law. (Up Front: News, Trends & Analysis)

Article excerpt

Spain is now regulating cyberspace sites that engage in commerce, and any organization doing business in or with the country should be aware of the new law.

Under a law that took effect October 12, 2002, any Spain-based Web site that participates in commerce must now register with the government. According to Kriptopolis, a digital rights and Internet security site, the tough new rules have prompted at least 300 Web site owners to take their pages offline in protest. Many site operators say their protest is temporary, but others say they have signed off for good. Still others say the law is so difficult to decipher that they don't know how to comply. Many are small, not-for-profit operators, including one that was offering free articles on ancient Egypt.

The government says the law stems from European Union (EU) directives and aims to encourage online commerce by making the Internet a safer place to do business. It wants companies operating on the Internet to be subject to the same tax and commerce laws as traditional firms. In addition to requiring Web sites that carry out commercial transactions to sign up with the government, the law also mandates that they display their company address and phone number to give customers a physical place to turn if problems arise. But critics say Spain has gone beyond the spirit of the EU guidelines by trying to regulate cyberspace. …