A Copyright Masquerade - relevant to law & trade agreements in Europe, the US & Australia


Reads like a legal thriller!

The 2009 Telecoms Package & copyright


I was honoured to be invited to present at the Ukrainian Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on 30 September. The panel was Internet and Human Rights. I spoke about how blocking and filtering technologies enable interference with freedom of expression and how the collection of communications traffic data engages the right to privacy. It was a great experience to make such a presentation in a country that is


A new EU telecoms law adopted on Tuesday (27 October 2015) should mean lower mobile Internet bills for travellers but threatens also to ride roughshod over net neutrality – or does it? We know there has been a political deal but what does it really mean for policy-makers.


 Will the Internet's future be decided by politics and not by principle?

 The European Parliament will take a crucial vote on net neutrality in a couple of hours' time. From the debate this morning, the political undertones of this vote are coming out. What is clear is that the Parliament allowed itself to be pressured by the Council of Ministers. That is not good for European democracy. Nor is it good for the Internet.


Tomorrow a crucial vote in the European Parliament will decide whether Europe supports the principle of net neutrality. A proposal will be put before the Parliament that is headed 'open internet access' and will be touted as protecting net neutrality. However, it is highly contoversial, because it threatens to open the door to zero-rating of content. Amendments have been tabled that would protect net neutrality and their acceptance could be crucial for the future of the Internet.

The Parliament has the choice to doff its cap to the Council of ministers or to stand up for itself as a democratic institution and support its own position.


A highly-respected German website is to be investigated for treason after publishing leaked documents relating to  mass Internet surveillance.

 The German Internet policy website,  Netzpolitik.org, has been put on notice for  treason after it published two articles revealing government plans to expand intelligence capabilities for Internet surveillance. The website received the notice yesterday from the German attorney general,  following a complaint from the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz – this is the  internal intelligence service,  the German equivalent of MI5. The matter has sparked a media storm over freedom of the press, in a country where Internet surveillance issues are household knowledge.


We fixed net neutrality -  says who?

 EU officials are claiming to have ‘fixed’ net neutrality after a late night session to thrash out a deal on telecoms. From what can be ascertained, the deal gets rid of roaming charges on mobile phones, in return for the network operators – fixed and mobile – being allowed to do preferential deals over content inside bandwidth caps – so-called  zero-rating.  The EU has been wanting to abolish roaming charges for some time, against resistance from the network operators, who would lose revenue. It  seems that zero-rating is the political quid pro quo, and if it is so, then we are witnessing a clever piece of smoke and mirrors.


International talks on a secret deal over trade in services threaten to overturn to net neutrality policies currently on the table on both sides of the Atlantic.  Instead, back-room negotiators could put in place an international framework that leaves the door open for restrictive behaviour by the telecommunications companies that run the Internet.


On the same day as the Queen’s Speech on 27 May, a  private members’ Bill was introduced to Parliament  that provides for wide-scale content filtering by network providers and device manufacturers.  Whilst the headline objective is to remove ‘adult’ content from the Internet, the Bill opens the door to  a much broader interpretation and in that regard, poses serious risks to freedom of expression.  If adopted, the proposed regime would  be implemented and overseen by private companies, outsourcing the government’s duties to corporate actors. It may never get on the Statute, but it does signal attempts by lobbying communities to pressure the government.


The European Commission announced today  radical plans to overhaul copyright. The proposals  focus on users’ability to legally access copyrighted content across borders, and they are understood to have upset the entertainment and music industries. This  is not surprising since the changes will cut right through their copyright-supported distribution infrastructure.

The main plank for change will be the territoriality of copyright. Territoriality refers to the way that the entertainment industries are organised around national borders for the granting of rights and the distribution and  sale of goods. On the Internet, this system is  managed by asking intermediaries to block content that is not


Widely leaked since before Xmas. The biggest open secret in Brussels. What are we to make of  the new  EU plans for the Internet, presented today as  the Digital Single Market policy?  An analysis  exposes  a few hidden issues.

 Today the European Union  announced a wide ranging plan to tackle the Internet.  Top of its action list is a phenomenon that is becoming known as


27 March 2015.
I was delighted to be invited by the Council of Europe to give a lecture at the University of Podgorica, MonteNegro. The lecture was one in a series of lectures arranged in collaboration between the University and the Council of Europe. My presentation was entitled: Online media – CoE standards, copyright & use of social media by journalists. It was an amazing experience to have my words translated into  Montenegrin and to give the lecture with simulatneous translation. I'd like to thank the students for being a wonderful audience, the translator for her patience, and the organisers at the University for doing such a great job. It was my first trip to Podgorica and indeed, my first time in the Balkans, and I have to say that I was made to feel very welcome. 

This year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the Great Charter that established the right to a fair trial and  put an end to arbitrary justice in private hands. What, you may ask, does this have to do with technology policy for the 21st century? It’s a strange twist of fate that this year, in Britain, we face calls for private companies to take on the role of  (secret) police-man, judge and censor all wrapped up in one.


After much anticipation, the EU Council of Ministers released its  net neutrality mandate last week.  The announcement follows some  highly political back-room  wrangling, which has resulted in a text – seen by Iptegrity -  that  creates some very murky waters around Internet fast lanes, filtering and specialised services. The Council now goes into the so-called ‘trilogue’  talks with the European Parliament, and the prospect of a political battle looms.


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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten, European expert on Internet policy and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She is an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on Cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT). She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy. Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

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