Thursday, September 25, 2008

BPN 1231 A tricky proposal by MEPs

The European Parliament has voted in favour of new legislation offering ISPs the opportunity to close off internet access as punishment for illegal downloading. Under the new rules providers can be obliged to terminate the connection of users who have downloaded music, games or video three times illegally. The measure, however, is not mandatory.

The new package of telecom measures offers EU member states the possibility to let ISPs punish their users; however, the measure is not mandatory. The measures have been accepted in the telecom package on the instigation of French members of the European Parliament, who are of the opinion that illegal downloading will harm the creative industry. ( A simular measure has been proposed by the French minister of Culture a few months ago). The usual argument of musicians missing revenues was brought up again. The EU-countries still have to agree with the telecom package. This will go back to the EU Parliament for a second reading.

The measure of disconnecting a user means that the ISP can start checking the content being downloaded manually or by filter. Theoretically (and in practice it already has been signalled) it is possible for a provider to check whether a user is downloading large copyrighted material, causing the network to sow down. However, some member of the EU Parliament (MEPs) find it unacceptable that ISP are promoted to police functions by making them responsible for the content of internet. Copyright should not take precedence over privacy.

The package of measures is supposed to improve the rights of the digital consumer. One of the measures concerns itself with the duration of the subscription to maximally two year. This should prevent subscribers from long and expensive subscriptions. Another measure obliges the ISP to offer parents software to guard their children from adult sites and chatrooms. Besides the internet users will be better informed about their rights and warned when there is interference with their internet use, causing privacy problems. The users would also be able to claim damages from the ISP for non-performance.

There were also non controversial measures like the statement that internet should be there for everyone, that tariffs and bills should be more transparent and that there should be a better protection of the data traffic, not only of public sites, but also of social sites.

Blog Posting Number: 1231

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