Self-Regulation: Should Online Companies Police The Internet?

from the who-needs-evidence? dept

For anyone in Belgium on Wednesday, here's an afternoon event open to all that might be of interest: "'Self'-regulation: Should online companies police the internet?" If you can't make it to the European Parliament in Brussels, there's also a live video stream available.

It turns out that the seminar has an interesting connection with Techdirt. Back in September, we wrote about a proposed law in Italy that might lead to people losing their Internet connection after just one accusation of unauthorized sharing. Somebody who noticed this article was Marietje Schaake, the Member of the European Parliament who has organized the seminar to discuss self-regulation. She even mentioned the fact in a written question to European Commission:
Via the press, it has come to my attention that the Italian Parliament is currently considering a draft law under which Internet users may be disconnected and blacklisted if they have been accused of an intellectual property infringement. The accusation does not necessarily need to originate from the rights holder of the work in question.

The draft law, as proposed, violates several EC laws and principles, including:

Article 1(3a) of the telecoms package, amending Framework Directive 2002/21/EC,
Article 6 ECHR concerning a fair trial,
Article 10 ECHR concerning the freedom to seek, receive and impart information,
the principles of necessity and proportionality, and
depending on implementation, the intermediary liability exemptions in the e-Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC.

1. Does the Commission agree that the Italian proposal is in violation of EC laws and principles? If not, why not?

2. What concrete action will the Commission undertake to put a halt to measures being implemented by Member States whereby citizens may be disconnected from the Internet?
The Commission has now replied [pdf], although its answer is not particularly helpful:
The Commission has not yet received the notification of the draft law to which the Honourable Member refers.
However, it does add the following interesting comment:
limitations of end-users' access and use of electronic communications networks must be subject to adequate procedural safeguards, which ensures that these cannot be enacted on the basis of mere accusations alone.
That provides a clue as to why the copyright industries are so keen for online companies to "police" themselves in Europe: it avoids the need for accusations - or proof - altogether.

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  1. icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), 6 Dec 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    the larger muddied group of "service providers" (you know, the ones hiding behind DMCA safe harbors at the moment)
    This is stupid. The only parties "hiding behind safe harbors" are the innocent. Guilty parties (whether a service user or the provider itself) are not protected by safe harbors. To claim that the innocent are hiding is to claim that the innocent should be liable for what the guilty do. If that's going to apply online, it ought to apply in meatspace: you use a road to commit a crime, the city/county/state/nation is held liable; you use an object to commit a crime, the manufacturer/seller of that object should be held liable; you make a prank phone call, the phone company ought to held liable. That's insane.

    Also, there really isn't much different between a file host and a web host. If you really want a difference, it's going to be the protocol that it uses. File hosts can use all sorts of protocols (like FTP) whereas a web host uses HTTP. Nothing stops a file host from using HTTP however.

    As far as presentation to the user goes, you could have an FTP client that processes an html file as html, or an mp3 file as an mp3. Presentation to the user has everything to do with the client, and very little if anything at all to do with server it comes from. You could make a web browser (web host client) present html files as html, plain text, or event attempts to process it as a video file of some kind. Presentation is the client's job, not the server's. The server might make recommendations, but it cannot control the final presentation.

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