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

The European Commission is consulting on blocking orders against websites, and on privacy rules which relate to graduated response / 3-strikes measures. Interested Internet users have just over 2 months left to respond.


 Just before Christmas, on 22 December,  the European Commission snuck out a  Report on    the IPR Enforcement directive (commonly known as IPRED).  This  is the Report from the Commission on the Application of Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of Intellectual Property rights. The Report is   the first shot in a Consultation process which ends on 31st March.

The   main goal is to build   new measures for copyright enforcement on the Internet into EU law.  That is unmistakeably clear when you read the text of the Report. File-sharing is one target. Search engines are another. Anyone selling online  is a third target group.

 It is also very evident that the Commission proposes to use ISPs and

network providers as their favoured method for going after those target groups.  In that context, it discusses how they could  build into EU law enforcement of  copyright on the Internet via blocking orders. The review also has an    - undeclared but obvious by the nature of the wording -  intention towards some form of graduated response.


The tone of the review is emotive: ‘ the sheer volume and financial value of intellectual property rights infringement are [sic] alarming.  One reason is the unprecedented increase in opportunities to infringe intellectual property rights offered by the Internet'.


‘File-sharing of copyright-protected content ... has led many law-abiding citizens to commit massive infringements of copyright ... in the form of up-loading and disseminating protected content'.


What is very clear is the support  of the Commission - DG Markt - for blocking injunctions. That means it supports the idea that courts could order ISPs to block websites, applications  and services, on the basis of an allegation of copyright infringement. The Commission's IPRED report dwells on the nature of blocking injunctions, the rationale for them, and the different ways of enforcing them.


The European Commission is considering how ISPs can be made to block content, but, what is even more disturbing, it is floating the idea that search engines could also be served with such injunctions. Without a definition of a search engine, it could include Bit Torrent trackers and similar servers which do not host content but point people towards it.


DG Markt's other focal point is privacy law. It is does not, as far as I know, have any jurisdiction over privacy law, which is the remit of DG Justice under  Commissioner Viviane Reding. But it may be seeking to apply more political pressure on Commissioner Reding, by soliciting industry views in this context. The obvious application for DG Markt of any change to privacy law, would be graduated response/3-strikes measures.


The debates begun during the Telecoms Package have not gone away, instead they have intensified. DG Markt's report on the IPR Enforcement directive should sound alarm bells for those who care about the Internet. 


Report from the Commission on the Application of Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of Intellectual Property rights


Consultation on the Application of Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of Intellectual Property rights 


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 (2011), IPRED alarm bells sound as EU Commission targets ‘Net 6 January 2011 .

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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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.


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