Euro-IR Project Main Index
The APC European Internet Rights Project
Country Report Norway
By attorney-at-law Per-Kaare Svendsen,
Law firm Technology Law Partners
The telecommunications infrastructure in Norway consists of
fixed telephony networks (fiber, coax and copper), wireless networks
(Analogue and digital mobile), several cable television networks
and internal telecommunications networks. The infrastructure covers
the vast majority of the country and it is estimated that less
than 0.9% of the population do not have access to mobile or fixed
communications networks. The estimated number of PSTN/ISDN connections
was a little below 2.5 million. (GSM subscriptions were a little
above 2.5 mill) . Several providers are offering digital
services. Broadband access lines (fiber and xDSL) to households
and businesses are currently being deployed by several companies
in the major cities.
Government policy on promoting ICT infrastructure growth
The Norwegian government has increasingly focused on Internet
access, broadband services and content. Several initiatives have
been made resulting in public reports (Norge Bit for Bit, Convergence
reports etc.) Increasingly public information is being made available
to the public via the Internet and the government operates a portal1 to public
authorities and public information. Updated legal texts have been
available online through Lovdata since 1995.2
The government has launched an overall plan called eNorway action
plan 2.0 describing several actions to be carried out.3
Percentage of population with Internet access4
More than 1,000,000 households have access to the Internet.
Approximately 2,390,000 (53%) persons over 13 years have access
to the Internet and of that almost 2 million (44%) persons have
used the Internet during the last 30 days and 1,116,000 (24,8%)
use the Internet every day. 5
66 % of companies with more than 10 employees have access to
the Internet in 1999 (estimated increase in 2000 was 11%)6
and 46 % of the companies had a web page.7
The number of registered subscriptions to various Internet
access services was approximately 702,000 in 1999. Private persons
held almost 93 % of the subscriptions and the vast majority connect
through dial-up access. 89,000 of the subscriptions are free of
charge access subscriptions (no charge from the ISP). More than
2,000 of the registered 46,664 business subscribers were connected
via a fixed connection.8
Availability of Internet access
Internet services are available via all telecommunications
service providers or fixed access services available throughout
the country. Several public libraries and most schools provide
some form of free of charge access to the Internet for people
without their own subscription. Most universities provide PCs
with access to the Internet and have in some areas financed broadband
network to student housing facilities.
Relevant Norwegian content
Several portals are available in the Norwegian language, several
international search engines provide search in the Norwegian language
and most major newspapers in Norway have a presence on the web.
Several newsgroups under the .no domain are active. In summary
it seems fair to conclude that there is abundant local content
available in the Norwegian language.
Gender and cultural barriers to Internet access
Statistics show that the Internet users are divided by age
as follows: 90% between 13 and 19 years, 80% between 20 and 39
years, 73% between 40 and 59 years and 18% of persons over 60
years. Approximately 60% of women have access.9
The previous division between users with a higher education and
non-educated users is decreasing.
Degree of regulation and/or control of ISP's by the government
In line with the deregulations policies and regulations in
the EU, there are no barriers of entry for ISPs. Norway abolished
all monopoly rights in the telecommunications sector on 1 January
1998 and in general the overall telecommunications regulation
must be considered to be among the most liberal in Europe. It
must be considered to be relatively easy to set up and maintain
an ISP service for new entrants. ISP/ASPs may register with the
National Post and Telecommunications Authority. Most ISPs connect
to the NIX, which is hosted by Uninett.
There is no ISP specific regulation and ISPs are regulated
by the general rules in the Norwegian Act on telecommunications.
Other relevant legislations that apply to ISPs are several consumer
protection rules, data protection rules and rules relating to
responsibility for content. From the 1 January 2000 a new data
protection law came into force, implementing the EC Directive
on data protection.10
The general notion today is that ISPs (technical providers, caching
and hosting) as a general rule will not be liable for content
controlled by the users unless the ISP engages in editorial activities
regarding such content. A review of the existing legislation will
be conducted in relation to the implementation of the e-commerce
The Norwegian constitution secures freedom of speech. A public
report reviews the current legislation and proposed amendments
to §100 of the Constitution regarding freedom of speech.11 Persons
may not be held liable in law for imparting or receiving information,
ideas or messages if such information can be justified in relation
to the reasons behind freedom of expression, i. e. the seeking
of truth, the promotion of democracy and the individual's freedom
to form his or her own opinions. Prior censorship and other preventive
measures may only be used as far as is necessary to protect children
and youth from harmful influence by moving pictures. Censorship
of letters may only be implemented in institutions and by leave
of a court of law. The issues relating to the responsibility of
technical intermediaries for unlawful statements by a user is
discussed in the report and the report concludes that the legal
situation is uncertain. Some studies have been made relating to
the subject of freedom of speech relating to the Internet.12
It is unlawful to examine letters belonging to others as well
as to breach the secrecy to be observed in i.e. telecommunications
and postal transmission. Telecommunications service providers
must maintain secrecy about the content of telecommunications
(technical data) according to the telecommunications act section
9-3. The police may have access to such information upon a court
order or by administrative order from the National Post- and Telecommunications
authorities. Such orders are given as a matter of routine. This
does not extend to the content of the transmission, i.e. e-mail,
but the police may have access to the content of such transmission
under judicial order by the courts. Persons conducting unlawful
examination of the content of electronic transmission may be punished
according to the Norwegian Criminal Code. The protection does
not extend to e-mails received by employees at their work place,
if such e-mail is presumed to be work-related.
Organisations active on Internet Rights issues
Organisations active on Internet Rights issues include Elektronisk
Forpost Norge (a sister organization of the Electronic Frontier
and Den Norske Dataforening (Norwegian Computer Society). The
Norwegian Computer Society is an open, independent forum for Norway's
IT professionals and advanced IT users and works amongst other
things for social commitment and is active in relation to Norwegian
10 January 2000.
1 See http://odin.dep.no
2 See http://www.lovdata.no.
3 See http://www.odin.dep.no/nhd/norsk/p10001865/p10001876/024101-220008/index-dok000-b-n-a.html.
4 Statistics for Norway may be found at Norwegian
Norsk Gallup (http://www.gallup.no/),
Norges Forskningsråd (http://www.forskningsradet.no/bibliotek/statistikk/)
and MMI (http://www.mmi.no/).
5 Source: Survey by Gallup Intertrack
6 Source: Statistics in Norway: Statistics
on ICT. http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/10/03/ikt_en/
7 Source: Statistisk Sentralbyrå
8 Source: The Norwegian post and telecommunications
authority's report, Telestatistikk 1999, section 3.7. All
figures are 1999 figures.
9 Source: Survey by Gallup Intertrack
10 General information about the data protection
regime and the Data Inspectorate is available in English at http://www.datatilsynet.no.
11 A summary of the report in English is available
12 Mr. Kyrre Eggen is a doctorate student
at the University of Oslo and is expected to conclude his doctorate
thesis during 2001.
13 See http://www.efn.no.
English version of the pages are available at http://www.efn.no/index_eng.html.
14 The Norwegian Computer Society in English
is available at http://www.dnd.no/ncs/index.shtml.
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