Internet providers are the new secret police, says report

A study claims that EU states are pushing ISPs to police customer activity

More and more European Union member states are delegating online policing to private companies and Internet service providers, according to a report released Wednesday.

Where law enforcement agencies would traditionally have tackled the problem of illegal online content, more powers are being given to ISPs in the name of industry self-regulation, according to a study by the organization European Digital Rights (EDRI). That trend is likely to become stronger with increasing "extra-judicial sanctions" against consumers, EDRI said.

Proposed legislation and "non-binding guidelines" have left intermediaries in a precarious position, unsure whether they are liable for the actions of consumers over their networks. So-called "three strikes" laws, under which alleged copyright infringers receive three warnings before their Internet connection is cut off, put the onus on Internet service providers to police customers. Such laws currently appear in some form in French, Irish and U.K. legislation, where they have met with anger from ISPs. In France, the law can impose a fine and a one-year Internet connection suspension. The U.K.'s Digital Economy Act, adopted last year, provoked concern from the country's two largest ISPs, BT and TalkTalk.

International trade agreements such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and bilateral trade agreements the E.U. has signed with India and South Korea, all leave the door open for intermediary liability.

"The European Commission appears far from perturbed by the dangers for fundamental rights of this approach and appears keen to export the approach. This process is gradually strangling the openness that is at the core of the Internet. This openness has enhanced democracy, has shaken dictatorships and has boosted economies worldwide. This openness is what we will lose through privatized policing of the Internet by private companies," said Joe McNamee, Advocacy Coordinator at European Digital Rights.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetEuropean Digital Rights

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

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?