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Policy matters

Policy does matter. We may think that the Internet is a free digital environment, where no laws apply but there are many cases which contradict this notion.

In this section of Iptegrity.com, I  report on EU policy related to the Internet and online content, in particular, where policy intiatives affect   access to film, music and television, and I highlight issues for the  policy debate in relation to the Internet.  For 2008-2009, copyright enforcement has been the hot topic, with net neutrality emerging as well, in 2009.   My focus is on the European Union and  its member states - for example,  I am currently covering Internet  policy - specifically copyright enforcement intiatives - in France and the UK.

I am most interested in the citizen's perspective. However, the issues I cover will affect the Internet and telecoms industries, as well as the media and entertainment industries.  

Iptegrity.com offers  original reporting from the EU, as well as comment and opinion on issues raised in other media, including non-English language media in Europe. Iptegrity.com is the main English-language news source for the Telecoms Package review of EU telecoms law.

MEPs are calling on the European Commission and on the French and British governments, not to adopt the "three strikes and you're out"  policies for ISPs. Christofer Fjellner and Michel Rocard, Guy Bono, Helga Trüpel, Francis Wurtz, Christa Prets and Katerina Batzeli  moved an amendment to the so-called Bono report,  asking for the Commission not to adopt policies for the Internet which are  disproportionate and  could infringe human and civic rights. They do not want Europe to adopt proposals for filtering and  blocking of Internet content and the imposition of sanctions on users such as cutting off Internet access.

 The move has no legislative importance but it could be important in positioning European policy on the Internet and ISPs.  The so-called "three strikes and you're out" proposal would mean that ISPs would be asked to warn, suspend and cut off users who were alleged to be infringing copyright rules. The proposal was mooted in France, by the "mission Olivennes", and is being considered by the UK government. 

The vote was on Wednesday April 9th and the amendment was accepted. 

In France, the vote has sparked a political spat between one of the amendment's sponsors, Michel Rocard, and the sponsoring minister, Christine Albanel.   Mme Albanel said, in an interview with

Read more: European Parliament anti-filtering vote

The UK government has told the Internet industry to come to an agreement with media companies over how to deal with filesharing. This has prompted some debate in the technology media, as to the rights and wrongs of ISPs being told to police their networks (but sadly little debate outside the technology pages).

Read The Guardian's account here.

Read The Register's incisive and different viewpoint here.

And Silicon.com's view is here.

The European Parliament's Culture and Education committee has voted on a draft report in respect of culture and the Lisbon agenda. According to reports on some US-based websites, it has rejected amendments in favour of ISP filtering and copyright term extensions. I would make a couple of comments here. The Lisbon agenda relates to economic growth in Europe, but it has no budgetary commitment and operates purely as an inter-governmental umbrella policy. Secondly, the vote did not relate to any legislation, as far as I can see. And thirdly, I can't find the final report on the EP website!! However, I look forward to seeing the confirmation of those US reports.

 

Updated 25th March 2008: The plenary vote on the Bono report will be on 10th April.  Rumours from Brussels suggest there will be another attempt by the industry lobby groups to get amendments included. The significance of the report is that it may set the tone for policy, even though it is not a legislative document.

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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.