URL of this press release: http://www.siug.ch/presse/Presse.20020405.html.en

Press release, "Swiss Internet User Group" SIUG

Swiss Internet Service Providers lock out competitors


Internet, April 5th 2002

Investigations of the Swiss Internet User Group (SIUG) have shown that some Swiss ISPs have disabled access to their competitor Butlerweb [1].

SIUG has discovered that both IP-Plus/Swisscom and Sunrise deny their customers access to Butlerweb's home page [2]. In fact, a technical error message is displayed suggesting that the competitor's server may not be running properly. Access of the Butlerweb pages via other ISPs remains without problems.


Side-effects of unapt barriers in the Internet

Further inquiries have shown that the IP number is allocated to the Butlerweb webserver [3] - the same number under which the web pages of Front14 [4] used to operate and which had previously been blocked by a number of Swiss ISPs due to the activities of the pressure group "Aktion Kinder des Holocaust" (Children of the Holocaust) [5] and the precarious legal position in Switzerland. SIUG had previously called attention to the fact that this approach would necessarily lead to the aggravating "collateral damage" as it has now become public [6]: Internet publications cannot be continuously scanned for problematic content.

Swiss providers on the horns of a dilemma

Some Swiss ISPs block access to parts of the Internet without notification of their customers, thereby making a choice between two equally unbefitting alternatives: Either they bow to the public pressure for blockades without awaiting definite legal regulations, or they take the risk of facing a trial with an uncertain outcome. It is this situation that leads to the observed damaging and intransparent access denials. SIUG promotes an open and transparent Internet and demands that the motion of council state member Thomas Pfisterer [7] is quickly put into practice in order to obtain clear legal grounds for Swiss ISPs. The filtering of the Internet has undesirable side-effects and does not contribute to the solving of societal problems.

Petitions and demonstrations in Germany

Similar problems currently exist in Germany: The district council of Dusseldorf had imposed similar access restrictions in February of this year. This led to a widely-supported petition opposing restrictions to the freedom of information [8]. Amongst the prominent initiators of the campaign are the "Reporters without Frontiers", the socialdemocrat MP Joerg Tauss, the spokeswoman of the Greens, Grietje Bettin, and the Chaos Computer Club [9]. The opponents of the decree have called for a demonstration in Duesseldorf on April 6th, the motto being "to filter out is to ignore".

References, Links:

  1. Information about Butlerweb:
    Butlerweb offers e.g. webhosting services, as do Swisscom and Sunrise.
  2. May be verified using the commands "traceroute www.butlerweb.com" (UNIX/Linux) or "tracert www.butlerweb.com" (some Windows variants).
  3. Computers connected to the Internet can be reached by so-called IP-numbers. Addresses such as www.butlerweb.com are transformed into the corresponding IP number when a website is requested. Web pages of different domains may be hosted using the same IP number.
  4. http://www.front14.org/
  5. http://www.akdh.ch/
  6. SIUG press releases February 18th 2001 and June 29 2001 (in German):
  7. http://parlament.ch/afs/data/d/gesch/2000/d_gesch_20003714.htm
  8. http://www.odem.org/
  9. http://www.ccc.de/


Further information about the Swiss Internet User Group (SIUG)

Homepage: http://www.siug.ch/
Statement of purpose: http://www.siug.ch/about/ (in German)

Statements on various internet-related issues:
http://www.siug.ch/positionen/ (in German)

SIUG also offers mailing lists for announcements and discussions regarding the above mentined topics. Details on how to subscribe can be found on the SIUG homepage.


P.O. Box 1908
CH-8021 Zürich

Swiss Post Account number: 87-67210-5


Homepage: http://www.siug.ch/