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The Hadopi - the French authority which oversees the 3-strikes law - has released the draft text of the warning emails which will be sent to Internet users, starting over the next few days. The warning is designed remind users of what will happen to them if their Internet subscription is used to download copyright-infringing material.

The draft text is presented by the Hadopi as a formal letter, a pdf of a printed letter-head (and presumably to be sent as an attachment). It is addressed to the Internet subscriber (not necessarily the same person as the 'user') and contains all the legal requirements as set out under the French government's graduated response / 3-strikes measures: that you Internet access has been used to make available, reproduce or access cultural works protected by copyright without the permission of the rights-holders, and that this constitutes a legal infringement; that this action could have been

taken without your knowledge; and that it is your responsibility to secure your Internet access against such an action.

The Hadopi warning letter has been criticised by the French media for being a 'minimalist' interpretation of the Hadopi's responsibilities to citizens. In particular, it gives no information on how Internet users can obtain copyrighted material without incurring such an allegation of infringement.

Nor does the Hadopi letter provide information on how users can defend themselves against the allegation of 'failure to control their Internet access'. The burden of helping users 'protect' their subscription is neatly shifted to the ISPs, in what appears to be an abbregation of the Hadopi's responsibility.

Users are referred to the Hadopi's own website - hadopi.fr - for more information. According to the French technology website Numerama, hadopi.fr was not working at the time the text was announced. I tried it today and it is still not working.

Numerama also reports that the deadline for the consultation on the Hadopi security software specification (see my other article on this topic) has been extended to 30 October. Which surely leaves users undefended and unable to defend themselves until the Hadopi sorts out this draconian spec.

One point which the Hadopi letter does make clear is the real meaning of this new legal concept: obligation to control your Internet access. The letter points out that the Internet subscriber is responsible for the use of their account. Users must be vigilant that their account is not used fraudulently and that they have secured it against such use (the French word used is 'veiller' which has a more loaded meaning).

Under the FAQs, the first question is 'What am I accused of?' . The answer is that you are accused of failing in your obligation of surveillance.

Thus, Hadopi neatly turns an obligation to control - make sure no outsiders camp on to your wifi, for example - into an obligation to monitor every use made by anyone who has access to your account. Or at least, it could be read that way.

It becomes government sponsored snooping into family correspondence, shopping, business and leisure activities and turns into a reality the fears of many who oppose graduated response/3-strikes measures.

Read the text of the Hadopi letter .

More commentary from Astrid Giradeau .

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2009), Hadopi's 3-strikes surveillance obligation revealed http://www.iptegrity.com 29 September 2010.


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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. 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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