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<nettime> Jennifer Baker: ISPs Are the New Secret Police, Says Report
Patrice Riemens on Thu, 27 Jan 2011 13:38:41 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Jennifer Baker: ISPs Are the New Secret Police, Says Report

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ISPs Are the New Secret Police, Says Report
By Jennifer Baker, IDG News

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

"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.

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