Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

Part 3 of a series of 3 postings on the leaked EU TTIP discussion document

 It has emerged that the rules that  protect Internet service providers and hosting companies from content  liability are being tabled for discussion in talks about the proposed  EU –EU trade deal (TTIP) . The proposal was revealed in a leaked European Commission document published recently by the German newspaper Die Zeit. Since any move by the EU to on intermediary liability legislation will be highly constroversial, it is interesting that the Commission is putting it forward for TTIP talks.

   The proposal revealed by Die Zeit,  forms part of a wider discussion tabled by the European Commission on the regulatory aspects of E-commerce within the context of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It suggests that the EU and the US should ‘co-operate’ and ‘maintain a dialogue’ on the ‘liability of intermediary service providers with respect to the transmission, or storage of information’.

 Transmission of information refers to ISPs, storage refers to hosting providers, and both are addressed in the E-commerce directive.  Intermediary liability in this political context,  refers to the obligations  that may be placed on these companies with regard to content. One of the pressures they face is from the copyright industries, who want them to police their networks and services to enforce copyright.

 According to the proposa leaked by Die Zeit, the ‘co-operation’ in this instance appears to extend only to the exchange of information on the legal framework and the implementation of it. And of course, the EU may have an agenda to learn more about the US Digital Millenium copyright Act ( DMCA) which regulates content takedowns from platforms such as YouTube and also from search engines such as Google.  

Such information exchange could feed into the proposed Notice and Action directive, currently in draft form. So it is not necessarily a negative development.

 However, it is also known that the US rights-holders were clamouring for secondary liability measures to be imposed on ISPs in the demised Anit-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The only reason they did not get it was due to the EU negotiators holding out on the legislative line drawn by the E-commerce directive ( as described in my book A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms  . ) So it may be anticipated that the US has an agenda to push the matter again on behalf of its entertainment industries.

 I am speaking in a debate at the London School of Economics this evening  on the subject of intermediary liability for copyright.  

Copyright and Freedoms in  a Digital Europe  -  Liability of  Intermediaries

10 March 2014  -  London School of Economics and Political Science Time: 6.30-8pm  Venue: Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building 

Speakers: Dr Monica Horten, Geoff Taylor, Nicholas Lansman  Chair: Anne Barron

 If you are interested in this debate,  please join us. The debate is open to the public.


This is an original article from and reflects research that I have carried out. If you refer to it or to its content, please cite my name as the author, and provide a link back to Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten, 2013, TTIP EU-US trade ‘dialogue’ on  ISP / web hosting  liability ,  in 10 March  2014. Commercial users - please contact me.

  If you like this article, you may like my books  A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms  and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the ‘Telecoms Package’

 Tags: TTIP, EU-US trade talks, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, intermediary liability, ISP, liability, DMCA, E-commerce directive, die  Zeit, European Commission.


Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review


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