Sunday, January 31, 1999 Published at 08:58 GMT
European Net strike called
All closed up: 24 hour strike called over the web
By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall
Internet users in seven countries are being urged to take part in the first coordinated European strike in protest against high access charges.
Web surfers in Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland are asked to avoid going online during the 24-hour action on Sunday.
The strike is being organised by the UK-based Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT) which has developed a Website and a mailing list to combine the different national campaigns.
Last year, there were Net strikes in six countries: Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Slovakia and Spain. CUT is planning two large-scale events in the summer involving at least 13 European countries.
In most cases, the strikes are against national telecom companies in protest at call charges imposed for accessing the Internet. While Americans do not pay for individual local calls, this is not the case in most other countries and is seen as a major drag on the growth of Internet usage.
Greek users boycotted the Net for 24 hours earlier this month, protesting at rate increases by the state phone company, OTE. The French Association of Unhappy Internet Users called a strike in December to try to persuade France Telecom to bring in a flat monthly charge rather than the equivqlent of $1.60-$3 an hour for Net access.
On Sunday, the Association's site's home page said it was shut down and contained a message reminding visitors to boycott the Net for 24 hours.
CUT says its united European campaign aims for: