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European Union Tech Policy

I have been logging EU policy since 2008. The information in these blog posts is deep background on the policy battles of the 2020s. What happens now, rests on what went before.

It's often easy to forget the history of policy, as we get embroiled in the latest lobbying scam or arguments between different sets of interests. It all seems new, and so urgent and important. In fact, many of the battles are re-runs of earlier ones. We've seen before how these things get resolved. We also see the mistakes of the previous legislation, as well as the successes.

What the European Union does in tech policy matters on a global scale. It has led the world with its legislation on privacy (GDPR). It is now hoping to repeat that with new laws to regulate Internet platforms. In that regard, the jury is still out.

As a guide to my somewhat eclectic headings, the sub-section IPRED discusses the IPR enforcement directive and other IP or copyright initiatives. The sub-section on Internet Threats looks at any EU policy initiatives other than copyright which imply Internet blocking. The sub-section on Internet Freedoms has a focus on rights and freedoms and the European Convention on Human Rights.

If you are interested in EU policy for IP, you may like my book The Closing of the Net which discusses it in the light of influencing factors by States and industry stakeholders.

If you are interested in copyright policy, you may like my previous books A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the 'Telecoms Package'

A rights-holder onslaught on the Medina report attempts to force the Parliament’s vote on graduated response and P2P filesharing issues...contrasted against  the Lambrinidis report calling for a the policy principles establishing a balance between privacy and surveillance...the two reports present MEPS with a dilemma on how to move forward on Internet policy for Europe.

 

The Medina report, from the 73-year old Spanish MEP Manuel Medina Ortega , contains the full rights-holder wish-list of graduated response, ISP “cooperation”, secondary liability for peer-to-peer filesharing sites and other websites, content liability for ISPs, and content filtering. It reads like an onslaught by the rights-holder lobby.

For example, it "Calls for cooperation from internet access providers in preventing and curbing electronic piracy"  and it "Supports the setting-up in the individual Member States of mecanisms, to be employed on instruction from rightholders and using a graduated approach, for the enforcement of copyright on the Internet". 

Several amendments can be traced directly to the former French culture minister MEP Jacques Toubon – responsible for the “cooperation” amendment in the Telecoms Package; as well as MEPs Janelly Fourtou and Arlene McCarthy. Mme Fourtou is the wife of Jean-René Fourtou, who is President of the French film and music conglomerate Vivendi.

The significance of the Medina report becomes clear in

Read more: A Net dilemma for the European Parliament

The French Presidency of the European Union is promoting an EU working group to develop and implement content identification and filtering techniques - those behind it are understood to include IFPI, Vivendi, SACEM and CISAC.

 The news has emerged in a  speech given  by French culture minister Christine Albanel ,  to a conference hosted last month in Paris by the French government, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union. She was speaking at the end of the proceedings, and giving the conclusions  of the seminar sessions.  One of those conclusions was to set up a joint working group of the European Commission, rights-holders from the media industries, and ISPs, to test and implement  content filtering technologies.

 Mme Albanel  makes a point of thanking the moderators of the sessions,  whom, she says, 'worked late into the night to put together the conclusions'. Among those moderators were John Kennedy, President of IFPI, Bernard Miyet, president of Gesac (and SACEM), Eric Baptiste, director General of CISAC, and Phillippe Kern, of KEA, a consultancy with links to the French film industry. Thus, we have to assume, in the absence of any other information, that the filtering working group was devised by them. The conference was also sponsored by Vivendi, and had a bias toward content industry speakers, several of them from IFPI. 

Mme Albanel says that she wants to turn the weapons of the content pirates against them. She is particularly thinking of content recognition and fingerprinting technologies, as well as

Read more: EU content filtering working group to launch

Report on EPP-ED Hearing, Creative Content Online, European Parliament, 12 June 2008

 

Three minutes and you're out!  Michael Bartholomew, director of ETNO - the European Telecommunications Network Operators group - walked out of the European Parliament hearing on online content when  he was cut off from speaking after just three minutes.  Mr Bartholmew was one of only two speakers from the telecoms industry, in a seminar entitled 'the search for consensus' - compared with four speakers from the content industry who had 10 minutes each.

He did get across the point that his members are investing three hundred billion Euros in new network infrastructure, capable of carrying mass-scale, broadcast-quality television which the content industries want to do. He asked whether it was really fair that the telcos and ISPs should foot the bill for the enforcement measures which the content industries want.  And, directing comments straight to the heart of the cultural lobby, he stated that the market needs to meet requirements for cultural diversity, as well as the consumer's right to privacy, and the right NOT to be criminalised for a civil misdemeanor. 

 The overall tenor of the hearing was  skewed against the ISPs - and was it me, or did I understand correctly the suggestion that if the content industries go down with piracy, they will drag the ISPs down with them? 

 

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor: online safety, technology and human rights. In April 2024, I was appointed as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on online safety and empowerment of content creators and users. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.  

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