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

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 - - for more information. According to the French technology website Numerama,  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. 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  29 September  2010.

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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