European ISPs lash out at secret ACTA negotiations

A treaty requiring that filesharers be disconnected from the Internet is heavy handed, according to the ISP trade group

Secretive international trade negotiations intended to clamp down on counterfeiting risk undermining the openness and innovation-friendly nature of the Internet, said EuroISPA, a trade group representing Europe's Internet service providers (ISPs), on Monday.

If the ideas under discussion are adopted, ISPs may be forced to snoop on their subscribers and cut them off if they are found to have shared copyright-protected music on the Net.

Countries including the U.S., Japan, Canada, South Korea and Australia, and the European Union trading block, have been negotiating an anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) over the past two years to combat the growing problem of counterfeiting of products ranging from designer clothes to downloadable music.

Trade officials from each of the participating countries met behind closed doors in Seoul earlier this month to discuss the most contentious element of the proposed trade agreement: how to deal with copyright infringement on the Internet.

The U.S. is leading the discussions on the matter. It has proposed that signatories of the trade agreement should "provide for third-party liability" for ISPs when their subscribers illegal share files, such as music or video, over their networks.

Under existing laws in the U.S., the E.U. and elsewhere, ISPs are granted immunity from prosecution for illegal activities carried out by subscribers across their networks.

The trade agreement would hand copyright owners a powerful weapon with which to beat ISPs, but ISPs question whether it would actually help combat illegal filesharing.

"Such heavy-handed measures would create a serious danger of undermining and restricting the open innovative space that lies at the very heart of the Internet's success," said Malcolm Hutty, EuroISPA's president, in a statement.

"This agreement would have a negative impact on Internet users without having an appreciable impact on fighting illicit use of copyrighted material," he added.

EuroISPA is concerned that the attempt to implement such measures through a trade agreement, rather than a conventional legislative process, will not allow the various stakeholders, such as ISPs and European citizens' representatives, to enter the debate.

According to an internal memo written by European trade officials at the European Commission earlier this year, the U.S. wants ACTA to force ISPs to put in place policies to deter unauthorized storage and transmission of infringing content, such as clauses in customers' contracts threatening the subscriber with being cut off if they are caught illegally sharing files over the Internet.

The U.S. used the term "graduated response," the same term being used in the U.K. and France to describe similar measures they are taking at a national level to clamp down on copyright abuse.

A recently passed French law otherwise known as the "three strikes" law means that people accused of illegally sharing copyright materials will receive warnings on the first two occasions, before having their Internet access suspended for a period.

The UK is considering introducing a similar law.

Meanwhile, at the European level, the European Parliament failed in its attempts to outlaw what many MEPs consider these draconian efforts to clamp down on filesharers.

The Parliament delayed the passing of a wide-ranging set of new laws for the telecommunications industry by insisting that any decision to ban someone from the Internet should be taken by a judge, and not by a government-appointed official.

In the end the Parliament gave up the fight under pressure, particularly from France and the U.K. Last week the telecommunications laws were passed with a clause calling for safeguards to citizens' rights to defense, but with no reference to the involvement of a judge in any decision to bar someone from the Net.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags europeACTAEuroISPAISPs

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Meller

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?