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Content Matters

In 2022, the open and neutral Internet is under threat more than ever as policy-makers seek to rein in the bit tech global platforms, some of which did not exist when I set up this website in 2007.

We have seen several different groups of stakeholders lobbying for blocks to be placed on websites, user access to be suspended or content filtering. It all started with copyright, but now many other lobbying interests are leading the charge. Many are non-governmental organisations representing vulnerable people or children, others are big industrial corporations whose motives are less likely to represent a public interest. A worrying development is how law enforcement have themselves become a stakeholder in this debate, seeking to get the private corporations to carry out enforcement on their behalf.

The issues also have moved on. Over the time that I've been writing on this field, we've seen calls for Internet blocking arising in respect to libel and defamation, and now there is very long list. One of the more worrying developments, especially in the UK since Brexit, is the matter of abuse of individuals. Those who oppose government policy tend to experience high volumes of very unpleasant abuse, and in some cases violent threats. This is not acceptable. It does raise a very difficult question, from a policy and human rights perspective. How to balance the need to protect free speech against malicious or arbitrary restrictions against the need to tackle the those who engage in this unpleasant and anti-social activity.

This section address a range of threats to the Internet from 2008 to the present day.

If you like the articles in this section and you are interested in Internet policy-making in the EU, especially with regard to copyright policy, 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'

If you are following discussions around telecoms and technology policy and content blocking , you may like my book The Closing of the Net which covers the British copyright blocking orders, as well as the Megaupload case.

In 2010,  we got  ACTA and the Digital Economy Act. On the other,  Internet freedom of speech  gained a new celebrity status, and in Britain anyway, the establishment has woken  up to the issues.


What can we expect for 2011? Will the new found free speech celebrities  take the issue mainstream?  Will the schizoid patterns of 2010 continue?


***And a happy New Year to all iptegrity readers! ***


First, a quick round-up of 2010.

The year  began with the fight between the European Parliament and the Commission over ACTA.  The Parliament passed a Resolution calling for transparency of the ACTA text, and opposing the inclusion of measures such as 3-strikes.  Contradictorily, this was followed by the Gallo report which supports 3-strikes and other draconian measures such as the blocking of websites.

 In the UK, the Digital Economy Act was bulldozed through the Parliament by the old Labour government under the eyes of the British music industry. In France, the 3-strikes measures began to take effect. The new Hadopi authority was established, warning  letters to Internet subscribers were drafted, and  software companies were asked to design ‘security' software which would ensure that a subscriber could not infringe copyright, by looking at all web traffic and applications on the computer. Internationally, ACTA  was concluded as a  multi-national  pact to enforce copyright against peer-to-peer file-sharing and any other activities on the Internet.

 In the autumn, the gloves came off

Read more: 2011 - a schizoid year for Internet policy?

The review of the E-commerce Directive asks whether network filtering can be effective and whether there are liability issues for "web 2.0 and cloud computing". Given that it is under the remit of the French Commissioner, Michel Barnier, how are we to read this strange approach to a consultation which specifically does NOT want to hear the citizen perspective?

In the middle of the summer holidays, when few were around to notice it, the European Commision has sneaked out a highly controversial review of the Ecommerce directive. The review is consulting on the use of Internet filtering and monitoring and search engine linking. It appears to have been influenced by the pharmaceutical, luxury goods and copyright industries. And in a move that is sure to inflame the user community, the Commission has specifically ruled out responses from citizens' groups and NGOs.

The Commission considers that

Read more: Ecommerce directive: EU Commission sneaks out filtering review

MEPS are being deceived into signing a Written Declaration which they believe is a statement on child abuse and sexual violence against women. In fact, it is a Trojan Horse for extending the Data Retention Directive. It reflects gutter-lobbying of the worst kind.

The Declaration from two EPP members, Tiziano Motti (Italy) and Anna Záborská (Slovakia) purports to be a call for setting up a European Early Warning System for sex offenders. It is not a policy proposal but is trying to get the European Parliament to establish a policy position, which could be used to pressure the Commission into drafting policy.

However, what it actually wants is for Directive 2006/24 EC to be extended. But it does not provide the full name of this Directive. If it did provide the name, the objective of the Written Declaration would be revealed. Apparently, 324 MEPs have already signed without bothering to check.

Directive 2006/24 EC is the Data Retention Directive which mandates ISPs and telephone companies to collect and retain communications traffic data for

Read more: European Parliament duped over sex offences Declaration

Iptegrity moves on!

May 2024: Iptegrity is being re-developed to upgrade the Joomla software.

Please bear with us until the new site is ready.

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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.