Pursuing the issue of Net Neutrality I have got a document from Malcolm Harbour through my MEP:
On Wed, May 27, 2009 at 3:30 PM, VAN ORDEN Geoffrey <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Mr Murray-Rust,
Thank you for your email about Net Neutrality. I have taken the liberty of asking my colleague Malcolm Harbour about your query and he has sent me the attached question and answer sheet.
I do hope this goes some way to answering your question.
Geoffrey Van Orden MEP
PMR: The document is called “Myths Vs Facts “ and does not appear to have any address or other attribution. I would be grateful for any comments on Mr Harbour’s contribution. (Harbour was a rapporteur for (or rather against) the Net Neutrality recommendation).
I have cut out the section relating to the Internet – other sections referred to BEREC. If I interpret just the words below it would appear that the EU is not going to impose restrictions but that it isn’t going to stop member states doing so. And if you live in France, bad luck.
Myths Vs Facts
The Telecoms Package and Your Rights on the Internet – the key questions:
1) Does this new Package threaten the freedom of the internet, by allowing big telecoms operators to block or discriminate against content, and my ability to access the services and content I want (net neutrality)?
No. The ISP provides a commercial service to customers and in principle free to structure that offering as they deem best. They will of course take customer demand into account. This means that they can currently for example block access to any site they want, or restrict access to applications, if they deem that to be commercially attractive. They can also offer different bandwidths, price packages etc. They can continue doing so also in the future. The situation is comparable to a bookseller – a bookseller does not have to offer every book available in print.
The possibility for ISPs to decide what to offer their customers is not changed by the Package. However, the Package will require ISPs to inform their customers of any such restrictions, so that you can choose whether to use another ISP.
If an ISP has a dominant position and abuses it, competition rules apply and can be used by the Commission or national authorities to address the situation.
As between you and your Government, any measures taken by a Member State to limit your access to services and content, for example by forcing ISPs to block access, have to respect your fundamental freedoms.
2) How are my rights as a citizen on the Internet safeguarded? Does this whole package affect my freedom to access and use information?
The fundamental rights of all citizens, whether as internet users or in any other capacity, are protected by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. That Convention for example safeguards freedom of expression, and the right to hold and impart information. It also provides for judicial remedies. The Package affirms that these fundamental rights also apply in the field of electronic communications.
3) This proposal has been drafted by the French Government to enable it to impose HADOPI?
No. Amendments that would have facilitated HADOPI were all rejected. These issues are a matter for national law, and not addressed in the Telecoms Package. The Package does however restate and reinforce that fundamental rights apply and have to be observed by Member States also in the context of internet usage.
4) Will I be banned from the Internet if I am caught downloading illegal copyright material from the Internet, such as films and music?
No. The reports that the proposals are going to lead to this are scaremongering. The legislation does not propose this.
5) What has caused all this scaremongering?
France is considering a highly controversial law which will mean that if French citizens are caught downloading illegal content, such as copyright films and music, three times they will be disconnected from the Internet. This is called the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” rule. This would mean that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would have to monitor internet traffic. The telecoms package has been attacked by false statements that it would adopt a similar “Three Strikes and You’re Out” approach.
6) So what does the Users´ Rights report proposals say in relation to copyright?
National authorities would, if appropriate, be able to produce generic, standardised information, which would be sent to all customers. This public interest information could cover a range of issues, including copyright, child pornography, viruses, and risks to attacks for personal security. There will be no targeting of individual customers for any particular activity and there will be no identification, spying or surveillance of any specific individuals. There is also a provision enabling national authorities to promote appropriate cooperation between ISPs and rightholders regarding lawful content.
7) What will happen if I illegally download copyright material after this legislation comes into force? Is there any way this legislation could lead to me being banned from the Internet?
There will be no change to the current situation, which means that it is up to Member States to deal with copyright issues according to their national law.
8) I am very interested in copyright and Intellectual Property. Will there be a more detailed dossier covering these issues?
Yes, the upcoming Creative Content Online consultation will explore Intellectual Property Rights in more detail.
PMR: I need an interpreter…
It’s nonsense, Peter. In particular:
“The situation is comparable to a bookseller – a bookseller does not have to offer every book available in print.”
No, he’s talking about content: this is about *distribution channels* – how content (of all kinds) is sent out. A better analogy is a manufacturer of TVs: they have a duty to provide access to *all* channels, not just the ones they are paid to permit. Net neutrality is about ensuring that we have access to all channels, and that new ones – perhaps with exciting or even inconvenient content for the incumbent broadcasters – is not hidden because somebody doesn’t want people to discover new offerings.
It’s true that ISPs can block access to *content* for legal reasons, but not services – or, if they do, they generally do it surreptitiously until they are found out, since they know it’s not something ought to be doing. They should be offering access to *any* IP packet, irrespective of what services it mediates. Their job is end-to-end provision, not on censoring *uses* (different from content).
The answer to # 6: “National authorities would, if appropriate, be able to produce generic, standardised information, which would be sent to all customers. This public interest information could cover a range of issues, including copyright, child pornography, viruses, and risks to attacks for personal security. There will be no targeting of individual customers for any particular activity and there will be no identification, spying or surveillance of any specific individuals. There is also a provision enabling national authorities to promote appropriate cooperation between ISPs and rightholders regarding lawful content.” Seems to imply that there will be monitoring of usage, but not targeted monitoring. Just general “big brother” type stuff to keep an eye on your downloads.
@Di @Glyn. Thanks
>And if you live in France, bad luck.
Good news on the French front. Their highest court, the Constitutional Council, has declared that access to the internet is a basic human right, and has removed the most oppressive elements of the Loi HADOPI. “Laurent Bedoue, head of the French magistrates union, said: ‘They approved 90 per cent of the text of the law, but eroded 90 per cent of its spirit.” The French govt still intends to apply what’s left of the original legislation – and will doubtless look for ways of circumventing this setback – but for the time being sanity has prevailed.
See http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6478542.ece and
@Peter thanks. Yes, we make progress…
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