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Deutsch: Den Worten müssen Taten folgen – Kommende ACTA-Abstimmungen im EP
After months of machinations, delays and politics, it appears that there is no more scope for delay and all four of the Committees giving Opinions on ACTA will finally vote next week. This will be a “make or break” moment for ACTA, because a failure to pass texts calling for ACTA's rejection would create a sudden momentum for the Agreement – building on the many ill-advised (or carefully planned) statements that ACTA is “dead”.
Even though the position of several key political groups is clear, the attraction of not taking a decision has proven too much for some individual MEPs. Danish Liberal MEP Jens Rhode tabled (and then withdrew his signature from) an amendment in the Industry Committee draft Opinion, which would have meant that the Committee would not issue a recommendation on whether to support or reject ACTA. The Liberal (ALDE) Group has decided to reject ACTA. Despite this, a minority of Liberals in the Civil Liberties Committee have proposed postponing a decision on ACTA until after the ruling of the European Court of Justice (in about 18 months) and have even tabled an amendment referring to the protection of “due process” in ACTA – even though there is no such provision in the text!
The conservative EPP group (the largest in the Parliament) is searching for an impossible middle ground between rejecting and supporting ACTA. They have been tabling amendments asking for clarifications from the Commission regarding the unclear definition of “commercial scale” and clarifications regarding privatised enforcement through Internet providers. What they have so far failed to understand is that many of the companies that will be “encouraged” to enforce intellectual property law in ACTA are not European companies. If Google is already enforcing US law in Europe (through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, for example), and the Commission can do nothing to stop this, how can the Commission “clarify” or limit what Microsoft, Verisign, Paypal etc. will do when they are “encouraged” by the US government to police the web on a global level? They cannot.
It is therefore crucial for all concerned citizens and organisations to contact the Parliamentarians in order to support the rejection of ACTA in all four Committees.
The final committee vote in the International Trade committee is scheduled to take place on 21 June, with a final Parliament vote due on 3 July.
For more information, see EDRi's “Stop ACTA” campaign page:
For details of MEPs on each of the Committees voting next week see:
Civil Liberties Committee (vote scheduled 30/31 May)
Industry Committee (vote scheduled 30 May)
Development Committee (vote scheduled 4 June)
Legal Affairs Committee (vote scheduled 31 May)
(Contribution by Joe McNamee - EDRi)
With the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to take place during 3-14 December 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS) 2012 having taken place in Geneva between 14-18 May 2012, a large group of human rights advocates, freedom of expression groups, academics and organisations of the civil society all over the world, including EDRi, drafted a letter raising several concerns related to the preparation process.
The letter of 17 May 2012, addressed to WCIT organiser, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Council Working Group to Prepare for the WCIT-12 and to ITU member states, is asking for more transparency and expresses the wish of the signatories to participate in the preparation process for WCIT.
In the groups’ opinion, the present preparatory process “lacks the transparency, openness of process, and inclusiveness of all relevant stakeholders that are imperative under commitments made at the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS).”
Although the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society urges international organizations “to ensure that all stakeholders, particularly from developing countries, have the opportunity to participate in policy decision-making … and to promote and facilitate such participation,” the group considers there has been little participation by civil society in the Council Working Group’s preparatory process for the WCIT so far.
During the WCIT in December, there will be a renegotiation of the ITU’s underlying treaty, the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs). Presently, the ITRs do not address Internet technical standards, infrastructure, or content. What we have now is a decentralized system in which governments, industry, engineers and civil society have the opportunity to participate in standards and policy development. OECD member states have recently adopted a set of Internet Policymaking Principles that backs up the existing model.
There are however states such as Russia or China, which advocate for the expansion of ITRs to include Internet regulation, which would fundamentally change the Internet governance, affecting freedom of expression, access to information and privacy rights, thus undermining the use of the Internet as a platform for innovation, economic and human development.
The civil society’s participation in the current process is limited by restrictions on sharing of preparatory documents, high barriers for ITU membership (including cost), and lack of mechanisms for remote participation in preparatory meetings.
The letter therefore asks for the removal of the restrictions on the sharing of WCIT documents and the release of “all preparatory materials, including the Council Working Group’s final report, consolidated reports from all preparatory activity, and proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations”.
It also asks for the participation of the civil society, “in its own right and without cost at Council Working Group meetings and the WCIT itself”, with formal speaking opportunities and the facilitation of remote participation as much as possible. Open public processes at the national level in the Member States are also required “to solicit input on proposed amendments to the International Telecommunication Regulations from all relevant stakeholders, including civil society, and release individual proposals for public debate.”
Some of the proposals that would allow the ITU and its governments to exert unprecedented regulatory control over the Internet include a governmental regulation of IP-traffic routing, content-related proposals referring also to “information security” and online child protection issues, the expansion of the scope of the ITRs to cover any entity that operates a telecommunications installation, the mandatory compliance with technical standards developed by the ITU and the expansion of the ITRs to address issues of cybercrime and cybersecurity.
“Beyond the creaking bureaucracy, the undemocratic procedures and the fact that the ITU effectively sells access to decision-makers through exorbitant corporate membership fees, the single biggest practical problem with the ITU is that it moves extremely slowly and cannot readily remedy any mistakes that it makes. Any damaging policy adopted under this process will burden global freedom of communications for years to come,” stated Joe McNamee, EDRi Advocacy Coordinator.
Letter from Civil Society to the World Conference on International
Telecommunications (WCIT) raising concerns with the engagement process
Letter for Civil Society Involvement in WCIT (17.05.2012)
Keep the Internet Open (16.05.2012)
Civil Society Must Have Voice as ITU Debates the Internet (16.05.2012)
Hey ITU Member States: No More Secrecy, Release the Treaty Proposals
EFF Joins Coalition Denouncing Secretive WCIT Planning Process (17.05.2012)
Article 19 Statement - ITU: Greater transparency and participation
needed in WCIT 2012 (18.05.2012)
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Deutsch: EP lehnt Durchsetzung von Urheberrechten im Rahmen der EU-Sicherheitst...
With a crushing majority of 503 in favour to 55 against and 56 abstentions, the European Parliament yesterday rejected the inclusion of the protection of intellectual property rights as a key element in the protection of Europe's internal security.
In a piece of what the Commission appears to have believed to be a piece of masterful political syllogism, it explained in its Internal Security Strategy (adopted at the end of 2010) that dangerous counterfeit goods are a threat for human health. These counterfeiting offences are infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR). “Piracy” is also an infringement of intellectual proprety rights. Consequently, the fight against “counterfeiting and piracy” must be included in the EU's Internal Security Strategy.
This is part of the wider strategy, as seen in ACTA, to treat all IPR as if it were the same, with dangerous medicines being considered as important as unauthorised downloading and vice versa. The obvious problem, as has become obvious in the ACTA, is that treating serious and trivial infringements as if they were of equal importance will inevitably result in either the serious infringement being treated as if it were trivial or vice versa.
The European Parliament, however, far more sensitive now to the questionable approach of the European Commission to intellectual property rights as a result of the ACTA discussions, recognised this crude attempt to push its so far unsuccessful approach to an even higher level of hysteria. Whatever else one can say about downloading a song without authorisation, the number of deaths that it is likely to cause is, we believe, comparatively low.
The final text agreed by the European Parliament on this point was: “notes, however, that it does not appear fully justified or appropriate to take action in the field of the enforcement of intellectual property rights – a matter which is part of a specific in-depth debate – within the framework of the ISS;”
The adopted Resolution also pointedly describes the broader lack of evidence for EU security measures, arguing in favour of an EU-wide analysis of threats “on the basis of a more transparent and robust methodology for threat assessment and relying on comprehensive contributions from the Member States.”
European Parliament resolution of 22 May 2012 on the European Union's Internal Security Strategy ((2010)2308 (INI))
EDRi report on the Commission proposal (1.12.2010)
Communication: The EU Internal Security Strategy in Action: Five steps
towards a more secure Europe (22.11.2010)
You wouldn't steal a car...
(Contribution by Joe McNamee - EDRi)
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Deutsch: Rumänien: Parlament verabschiedet Gesetz zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung....
On 22 May 2012, the lower chamber of the Romanian Parliament adopted the new draft law on data retention with 197 votes for the proposal and only 18 against it. The Chamber of Deputies has 332 members, so it is most likely that some parliamentary groups did not participate to the vote at all.
Even though the higher chamber (the Senate) rejected the draft law in almost unanimity on 21 December 2011, the new majority in the Chambers of Deputies feared the sanctions from the European Commissions, (estimated at 30 000 Euros/day of delay) and went ahead to adopt the text without any real evidence or debate over the right to privacy, despite the very clear Constitutional Court ruling of 2009 on the former data retention law or the concerns raised again by several human rights NGOs including EDRi-member ApTI.
In fact, after the rejection by the Senate and a negative vote from the Human Rights Committee in the Chambers of Deputies, one could have believed that the fate of the new draft law, that was not supported by the Government, was clear.
But the latest weeks have shown an impressive pressure from different locally appointed individuals dealing with EU matters - including the current Minister of European Affairs -pushing for the new law, just to avoid the imminent fine from the European Commission.
So, in the end, the political groups decided to ignore the citizens’ rights and the Constitutional Court’s decision, without any relevant discussion on privacy in the Chamber of Deputies or its main two committees that debated the law (Legal Committee and ITC Committee).
In a campaign to sensitize MPs over the data retention law back in February 2012, started by EDRI-member ApTI, only 1 Deputy out of the total 332 cared to answer the emails and snail mail the campaign. In this context of profound lack of real basic democratic skills from the Romanian MPs, it was no surprise that all the civil society concerns were just ignored, without any explanations.
The draft law adopted is actually worse than the initial one, with the access to the retained data in limbo. If the text of 2008 stated clearly that only a judge could allow the access to the data, the new text is unclear, making a reference to the Penal Procedure Code that, in fact, says nothing on the matter.
Unfortunately, the Chambers of Deputies' vote was decisive in this case and represents the final Parliament vote on this law. Now, within 5 days, certain institutions may initiate an unconstitutionality complaint to the Romanian Constitutional Court - but it is unclear if that will happen.
If no complaint is submitted, then the law will go to the President for promulgation. Then it will be published in the Official Monitor. From then on, it is probably just a matter of time until an NGO initiates a legal case, in order to get in fact a complaint to the Constitutional Court.
Chamber of Deputies have adopted the text of the Big Brother law (only
in Romanian, 22.05.2012)
Text of the adopted law (with amendments from the latest committees
meeting) (only in Romanian)
Law file on the Chamber of Deputies website
Results of the campaign to contact Romanian MPs (23.03.2012)
EDRi-gram: Romania: Data retention law declared unconstitutional
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Deutsch: Den Haag: Piratenpartei muss ihre Website zensurieren
On 10 May 2012, the district court of The Hague gave its verdict in the case of BREIN against the Dutch Pirate Party. BREIN had earlier obtained an ex parte injunction against the Dutch Pirates but, unlike earlier ex parte cases about proxies, the Dutch Pirates were not taking this lying down and counter sued BREIN.
In the resulting case about the execution of the earlier ex parte decision, BREIN's demands were that the Pirate Party should be ordered to: - shut down its dedicated proxy service to the Swedish site The Pirate Bay; - filter requests for The Pirate Bay from its generic proxy service; - remove references to methods for circumvention of the blockades of The Pirate Bay as thrown up by Dutch ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL, on order of (again) the district court of The Hague.
Regrettably, but not entirely unexpected, the court granted the requests of BREIN. This sets a deeply uncomfortable precedent in Europe. The idea of ISPs being ordered to shut down a website which merely facilitates copyright infringement is, despite its notoriety, unsettling enough. This verdict takes it a fundamental step further: merely demonstrating that a court's reasoning is flawed because it lacks effectiveness and thus proportionality becomes a reason to be sued.
The net result is that a political party is constrained in its ability to take part in the public debate about copyright enforcement. Regardless of what one thinks of the said party's positions, this is a frontal assault on the core of democracy.
The full text of the court's decision (only in Dutch, 10.05.2012)
Dutch Pirate Party
(Contribution by Walter van Holst - EDRi-member Vrijschrift - Netherlands)
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Deutsch: Anhörung zu ACTA im LIBE Ausschuss
On 16 May 2012, LIBE Rapporteur on ACTA, Mr. D. Droustas, hosted the event “the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) – Compatibility of ACTA with Fundamental Rights”. He welcomed the audience stating that European Parliament (EP)’s task policy is to overcome a challenge, namely to find a balance between new technology, artists’ creations and fundamental rights. He said that Europe has to show the right direction to the international community, in particular allowing citizens to participate proactively in the debate. “If you see the mood around, someone could say that ACTA is politically dead”, he said, “so we need something different and now we need to think about it”.
The first Panel was on the general assessment from the European Commission, practice and civil society.
A. Jessen, European Commissioner, said that this Agreement was crucial, since there was a need to protect European IPRs holders and to achieve a stronger enforcement, “with ACTA this goal can be effectively reached”. According to him, the core of the debate raised by civil society has nothing to do with ACTA and it is important to clarify what it’s about and what it’s not: ACTA is an enforcement Agreement, conceived to improve the IPRs protection worldwide, it doesn’t touch the EU substantial law, while its goal is to preserve copyright as outlined by the EU framework. A failure to ratify it will determine not only a lack of credibility of the EU institutions among the international community, but also the loss of a crucial chance to guarantee a minimum level of IPRs enforcement outside the EU. Moreover, he highlighted that if the EP rejects ACTA, the Commission is not ready to immediately re-negotiate a new Treaty: in any case the Commission will wait for the Court’s opinion and then send it back to the EP.
The second speaker was K. Rossoglu, Senior Legal Officer of the BEUC, European Consumers´ Organization, who reminded that rights of authors and creators should be balanced with consumers’ requires: BEUC is very critical of ACTA because the balance between those two interests is not met and the dialogue with consumers has been undermined since the beginning. The treaty seems to be a tool to extend copyright and not to purely enforce it - it clearly goes against fundamental rights: for instance art. 27.2 and 3 which speak about a “fair” process, which is not a “due” process;. Also any right to appeal is set by the treaty and as a consequence, the right to be heard isn’t safeguarded at all. Moreover, as the EDPS highlighted, ACTA could threaten data protection and privacy (i.e. “competent authorities” which are not necessarily “official authorities”). Mr. Rossoglu also expressed BEUC’s concerns on self-regulation.
A. Mottet Haugaard, Partner Lydian Law Firm (Head of the Intellectual Property Team), feared that the EP, by rejecting ACTA, would deprive EU enterprises from crucial tools to fight against counterfeiting: “counterfeiters are criminals, they’re often well organised as mafia structures and they profit on the internet tools for easily managing their illegal business”;. She also bilives that consumers who use counterfeited goods contribute in developing a criminal economy. Concerning the negotiations, she said that sometimes it’s better to discuss such subjects within a closed group of a few people and experts, otherwise the discussion risks to take years and years before reaching an agreement. Then she stabbed at the “bobos” who rioted over ACTA; finally she stated that article 27.4 fully respected fundamental rights.
Joe McNamee, European Digital Rights, pointed out that Article 27.3 of ACTA would involve the European Union entering into an agreement which would place a binding international legal obligation on the United States to encourage the regulation of European communications.This binding legal obligation would require the United States to encourage companies under its jurisdiction to effectively enforce trademark and copyright law. He mentioned these companies that would be encouraged to enforce the law: for instance, Verisign (the Company that is the central registry for all .COM websites all over the world), or global search engines, or advertising networks like Google, payment service or providers like Paypal, Visa and MasterCard – companies that will need to comply with the European law, not just with US law. The European Union also has a Treaty obligation to support democracy and the rule of law in its international relations. It is also important to consider the inevitable impact of ACTA on third countries.
In a developing country, with the ACTA signatory government encouraging privatised enforcement, Internet companies will be coerced into implementing restrictions of freedom of communication and privacy, due to the cumulative effect of broad criminal sanctions for aiding and abetting infringements, the threat of excessive damages payments and the high cost of fighting injunctions.
He underlined that there was no provision in any part of ACTA that would require a party to implement any protective measure whatsoever. The treaty only says that existing legislation does not have to be repealed. ACTA does not mention fundamental rights, it refers only to the vague concept of “fundamental principles”, nor does it mention a due process of law, it refers only to the fictional “fundamental principle of fair process” which exists nowhere else in international law.
MEP B. Sippel (S&D) from the audience, exhorted to keep in mind that the question of data protection is fundamental: “we should protect authors’ rights, but we must avoid to give the opportunity to check every movements that citizens take”.
During the questions and answers session, a representative of video game industries association pointed out that ACTA was necessary for their market. Mr. Rossoglu answered that it wasn’t correct to envisage only one instrument to govern the whole IPRs, “we should think about different solutions and several approaches”.
The second panel was focused on freedom of expression, the rights to privacy and data protection.
H. Lindvall, Swedish songwriter, musician, journalist and music specialist, opened the panel, saying that copyright was the engine of freedom of expression and creativity: “it makes us artists to be independent and live with our music and creations”. In her opinion, artists need ACTA. Notably she showed that around 90% of the music industry was made up of SMEs employing fewer than five people, all relaying on copyright to survive; “we need enforcement of IPRs, like ACTA: otherwise other solutions will create a corporate feudalism where the artists would have to go around hat in hand”, she concluded.
J. Zimmermann from La Quadrature du Net intervened in the discussion, pointing out that the debate was reduced to legal and economic terms, while ACTA was a political issue with deep implication. It would reinforce censorship outside the rule of law and freedom of expression is exposed to infringement by private companies. In particular, he stressed the importance of redefining the scope of the exceptions for cultural practices: “not for profit usage between individual must be considered legal”.
Then the floor went to G. Buttarelli, Assistant at European Data Protection Supervisor. Firstly he said that EDPS was welcoming Droustas’ draft opinion as indeed, caution should be exercised with this kind of subjects. Then he answered the Commission services who argued that the EDPS was assuming that the agreement would be implemented in a wrong way by saying that was not true as the EDPS just evaluated the potential effects in order to highlight possible risks. “The digital chapter is a masterpiece of ambiguity” he stated. That part does not contain sufficient limitations and safeguards, such as effective judicial protection, due process, the principle of the presumption of innocence, and the right to privacy and data protection. For instance article 27.4 may interfere with human rights (not only privacy and data protection), since it opens the door to measures which could degenerate in internet surveillance - indeed the European Court of Justice itself has stated that monitoring shouldn’t be general in scope. Article 27.3 is vague, there is a lack of clarity on what does “cooperative enforcement” mean.
Moreover, an international treaty is premature when there is still internal certainty on these issues and there is a risk that ACTA has a negative influence on EU framework (e.g. on the IPRED Directive). Therefore, the EDPS suggests working on effective measures and to negotiate more specific safeguards, as well as thinking about additional protocols.
Mr. Jenssen, who closed the discussion, noted that the EDPS report didn’t take in consideration all the safeguards set in the agreement. When criticising the provisions for being vague, we should have in mind that they would be implemented in the EU, so they will be made legal and compatible with fundamental rights.
In his concluding remarks, LIBE Rapporteur on ACTA stressed that the discussion showed, one more time, how this issue was controversial and, as a consequence, that further discussions were needed . “We know that a perfect solution is impossible to reach, but ACTA isn’t up to what is needed”, he said, adding that where fundamental rights were involved, ambiguity had to be avoided.
EP ACTA Hearing on 16 May 2012 (some extracts of the NGOs speeches)
(Contribution by Elena Cantelo - EDRi intern)
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Deutsch: Geplantes britisches Telekommunikationsgesetz wirft Fragen auf
Some of the bills presented on 9 May 2012 in the Queen’s Speech, in which the Queen reads the government’s legislative agenda for the next parliamentary period in front of both Houses of Parliament, raise freedom of expression concerns.
HM the Queen confirmed the intention of the government to introduce the Communications Capabilities Development Programme, a government bill aimed at extending the surveillance of the electronic and telephone communications in UK.
“My government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses’” said HM the Queen in her speech.
However, the text of the bill does not give clear indications regarding these safeguards.
In a letter addressed to the House of Commons, Reporters Without Borders expressed their opinion that the bill was “disproportionate, dangerous and counter-productive”, believing that it “could undermine individual freedoms and potentially lead to widespread abuse.” The bill gives intelligence services the right to access - in real time and without prior authorisation - details of telephone calls, text messages, emails, private messages on social networks and websites visited, which means a breach of the individuals’ right to privacy. Furthermore, the bill would involve serious legal, technical and financial issues and would contravene international conventions ratified by the United Kingdom.
Reporter Without Borders asked in their letter for a series of clarifications related to the bill, including the criteria and circumstances under which personal data can be examined, who would be allowed to access the personal data and for how long, the safeguards for citizens’ protection from abuses and the penalties imposed on the Internet and telephone service providers for not handing over these data.
The communication bill was also criticised by EDRi-member ARTICLE 19 which considers it highly problematic also as it orders ISPs and mobile phone operators to save and store, for one year, details of all communications made by all persons in the UK.
Article 19 believes communication surveillance should be carried out only with a court order and only when strictly necessary. Therefore storing information on all UK citizens, without any suspicion, “constitutes an invasion of privacy which is neither proportionate nor necessary.”
The proposal makes identifying journalistic confidential sources possible, thus discouraging people from providing information or visiting controversial sites, which will affect the right to free expression. The proposed safeguards are also clearly not enough especially having in view the poor data security of the police and private companies.
Both Reporters Without Borders and Article 19 call on the government and parliament to reject the bill.
Open letter to Members of Parliament on Internet surveillance (11.05.2012)
Article 19 Statement - UK: Government promises defamation reform but
backslides on expression and surveillance (11.05.2012)
Queen unveils draft internet super-snoop bill - with clauses - Her Maj
opens Parliamentary session with clear nod to CCDP (9.05.2012)
EDRi-gram: UK: Home Office plans new surveillance measures (11.04.2012)
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Deutsch: Elektronische Identitäten für alle EU-Bürger?
The European Commission (EC) plans to have harmonised e-signatures, e-identities and electronic authentication services (eIAS) across EU member states.
On 2 May 2012, the EC published a strategy document for the setting up of children online protection systems, which also mentions a proposition for a “pan-European framework for electronic authentication" (unmentioned however in the document press release or its citizens’ summary).
The European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children sketches a series of proposals to harmonise protections across member states for children using online services with many suggestions for the increased use of age classification, as well as the inclusion of "efficient" parental controls "on any type of device and for any type of content, including user-generated content".
"The Commission... intends to propose in 2012 a pan-European framework for electronic authentication that will enable the use of personal attributes (age in particular) to ensure compliance with the age provisions of the proposed data protection regulation," says the document which also says that the industry will be expected to introduce "technical means" of electronic identification and authentication.
It also reads: “A clear regulatory environment for eIAS would boost user convenience, trust and confidence in the digital world. This will increase the availability of cross-border and cross-sector eIAS and stimulate the take up of cross-border electronic transactions in all sectors.”
The proposal for a e-identities all over the EU states is set to be presented by Neelie Kroes, the EU's Digital Agenda Commissioner, on 30 May, and is intended “to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions” through the adoption of harmonised e-signatures, e-identities and eIAS.
The EC has been forcing the e-identification for some time. In 1999, a directive was adopted to establish a common framework for electronic signatures with the idea that if EU citizens feel comfortable in signing documents online, they will move to cross-border e-commerce for business and shopping.
The proposition faces criticisms from civil rights groups and member states where there are no electronic ID documents and the implementation of e-systems is still slow. E-signatures are limited to a few sectors and only a few EU nations have introduced electronic identity cards.
Moreover, even paper ID cards are not used in some countries such as UK, Denmark or Ireland and there is a strong public opposition to them.
However, the EC is decided to push the plan forward and to “widen the scope of the current Directive by including also ancillary authentication services that complement e-signatures, like electronic seals, time/date stamps, etc,” as reads an internal paper prepared by Kroes’ cabinet.
Electronic identity has been criticised also due to the risks of identity theft and virtual fraud. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has suggested amending Kroes’ proposal to strengthen its data-protection obligations, such as a 24-hour data breach notification which is already part of the legislative framework for EU data protection launched by Reding in January.
The EC proposal will probably face also the opposition of the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers. “Close Council scrutiny of detailed provisions should be expected, as not all member states have e-IDs and the subject is linked to core national sovereignty (state-citizen relationship, security), as well as e-Government organisation,” Kroes’ cabinet wrote.
Brussels wants e-identities for EU citizens (21.05.2012)
European e-identity plan to be unveiled this month (3.05.2012)
European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children (draft) (05.2012)
EC Press Release - Digital Agenda: New strategy for safer internet and
better internet content for children and teenagers (2.05.2012)
Citizens' summary - European strategy for a better internet for children
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Deutsch: Amesys' Mittäterschaft bei Folterungen: Kontrolle des Exports von Üb...
The Paris Court Prosecutor decided on 21 May 2012 to probe the Amesys company, a BULL’s subsidiary, over complicity of torture in Libya under Kadhafi. The investigation, which follows a criminal complaint jointly filed by the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and its French member LDH in October 2011, is conducted by Céline Hildenbrandt, a judge from the Paris Court section specialized in crimes against humanity, genocides and war crimes.
Amesys, a French technology company specialized in security systems and acquired in 2010 by BULL, is accused by FIDH and LDH of "offences committed through the provision to the Kadhafi regime, from 2007, of a surveillance system to monitor communications of the Libyan people." The company objected again to this accusation, as it did in September 2011 after the scandal started. Amesys claimed that its contract with the Libyan authorities was concluded in 2007, “at a time when the international community was in the process of diplomatic rapprochement with Libya, which was looking to fight against terrorism and acts perpetrated by Al Qaeda”. “All Amesys' business dealings comply rigorously with the legal and regulatory requirements set out in international, European and French conventions”, the company added.
These justifications were a tentative to respond to the evidence initially provided by the Wall Street Journal regarding the use of Amesys software by Libyan agents to monitor the Libyan population, spying on their emails and chats. The WSJ journalists revealed how they found files containing intercepted communications and a training manual for Amesys surveillance software called Eagle, in an abandoned Internet monitoring center in Tripoli, right after the collapse of the Kadhafi’s regime in end August 2011. In March 2012, BULL announced that it was putting on sale its subsidiary’s activities related to Eagle, a software for Internet communication interceptions. BULL argued that these activities were not strategic, and the Eagle software was “originally designed to chase paedophiles, terrorists and drug traffickers”, which is yet another example of the mission creep risk conveyed by technologies and policies initially justified by legitimate purposes. As of today, these activities are still on sale, and Amesys is still a BULL subsidiary.
According to FIDH and LDH, the opening of the probe will allow to shed light both on companies helping through commercial agreements dictatorial regimes to reinforce the repression of their populations and on the crimes committed under Kadhafi’s regime. One may also expect that the investigation will explore the role of the French government, under Sarkozy’s presidency (2007-2012), in the selling of surveillance software to Libya and other authoritarian countries by French technology companies. Back in March this year, the former French government stated that the technology sold by Amesys was not categorized as conventional arms nor even as dual-use goods and technologies, which export is controlled according to the Wassenaar Arrangement, and thus it was not aware of Amesys’ technology export.
While this judicial investigation is related to a specific case, its opening strengthens the need for political steps to be taken by governments, in order to strictly regulate commercial exports of surveillance systems by commercial companies, especially those established in States championing human rights – if only in their official discourse.
In December 2011, Wikileaks published, in cooperation with various newspapers and NGOs, a full set of brochures and manuals of surveillance software and tools from Amesys as well as from other companies, showing how diversified, extended and powerful are these systems, sold by Western (and non Western) companies to authoritarian regimes all over the world, and used as well in so-called democratic countries.
It is now time to seriously consider strong political and legal measures for the control of surveillance technologies, software and equipments, at the design, development, selling on national markets or exporting, and use steps. The European Union should take the lead in this process, and the joint initiative taken by Nelly Kroes (EC Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda) and Catherine Ashton (EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) with the "No Disconnect Strategy" could be a perfect vehicle to identify, with all relevant actors, appropriate measures at the European and Global levels to be taken in this respect.
FIDH-LDH Press Release: "Amesys case referred to French Justice"
(22.05.2012, only in French)
French firm Amesys probed over "complicity in torture" (22.05.2012)
BULL faces again the Amesys Scandal (22.05.2012, only in French)
Libya: Amesys objects to the complicity of torture accusation
(22.05.2012, only in French)
Wikileaks’s publication of ‘The Spy Files’ (01.12.2011)
Amesys press release (01.09.2011)
Firms Aided Libyan Spies (30.08.2011)
FIDH-LDH Press Release: ‘FIDH and LDH file a complaint concerning the
responsability of the company AMESYS in relation to acts of torture’
EC joint Communication on "A Partnership For Democracy And Shared
Prosperity With The Southern Mediterranean" (08.03.2011)
EC Workshop on FIRE and the "No Disconnect Strategy" (07.05.2012)
(Contribution by Meryem Marzouki (EDRI member IRIS - France)
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Deutsch: Finnland: Betreiber offener W-Lans haften nicht für Urheberrechtsvers...
On 14 May 2012, a District Finish Court decided on the condition of open WiFi owners in respect to their liability for online copyright infringements. In a two-year long case brought to court by the anti-piracy group CIAPC against a Finnish woman for copyright infringement, the court decided in favour of the defendant.
The issue was that the woman had been accused of having illegally shared copyrighted material by Direct Connect (DC++) protocol through her Internet connection. CIAPC asked for 6000 euro for an alleged infringement during a specific 12-minute period on 14 July 2010. However, the alleged infringement had taken place during a summer theatre play with an audience of around hundred people which was held at the premises owned and resided by the respective woman and the applicants could not prove that the woman had personally been involved in file-sharing.
The question therefore in front of the court was whether providing a WiFi connection not protected with a password could be considered a copyright infringement and the decision of the court was that WiFi owners could not be deemed liable for the infringements actually committed by third parties.
CIAPC had also asked for an injunction to prevent the defendant from committing similar acts in the future which, if granted, would have given rights-owners a powerful legal weapon to shut WiFi connections in similar cases.
The legal basis for the court’s decision was the Finnish legislation involving the implementation of several EU directives in the field of information society and copyright.
In case CIAPC decides to appeal the case to the Vaasa Court of Appeals, there remains the option to take it to the European Court of Justice which would clarify things for the EU in general.
The new ruling in Finland appears to fall in line with a lack of liability for open WiFi network operators in the United States.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an open WiFi is “a mere conduit for the communications of others, and often enjoys statutory immunities. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there is a safe harbour for service providers who offer ‘the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received.’ That definition fits a provider of free public WiFi as easily as a traditional DSL provider.”
Finnish Court: Open WiFi Owner Not Liable for File-Sharing Copyright
Open WiFi Owner Not Liable For Illegal File-Sharing, Court Rules
Finnish court rules open WiFi network owner not liable for infringement
Open WiFi and Liability for Copyright Infringement: Setting the Record
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Deutsch: ENDitorial: Schutz von Kindern im Internet sollte nicht mit Zensur ein...
Earlier this month, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government would be considering default filtering of ‘adult content’ on the internet. The announcement came shortly after the release of a report by a cross-party parliamentary inquiry chaired by Claire Perry on online child protection. The report’s chief recommendation is the adoption of an opt-in filter for adult material on the internet as the best way to protect children online. Regulation of online content is also suggested as a way forward.
Let us be clear. There is no doubt that the protection of children from ‘harmful’ content is a perfectly legitimate goal. In fact, the European Court of Human Rights has said that states have an obligation to protect children online (K.U. v Finland, 2 December 2008). The problem with the inquiry proposals however is that they are both hopelessly vague and would severely damage freedom of expression online.
To begin with, freedom of expression is as much about ideas and information we agree with or care about as it is about speech we consider offensive or are not interested in. Like it or not, pornography is protected speech both under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The same is true of the vast majority of ‘adult content’ online or offline with the exception of child pornography, which is one of the very limited types of expression that can be prohibited under international law. For this reason, any limit on freedom of expression can only be justified if it is narrowly defined and proportionate to achieve its purpose.
A major issue with the current proposals is that it is unclear what would be filtered or blocked. In the absence of an agreed definition of pornography, works of art like Nabokov’s Lolita would not necessarily pass muster. It gets worse with ‘adult material', which potentially encompasses a much wider range of content. The point is that these terms typically entail subjective value-judgments, which makes it almost impossible to anticipate what would or should be filtered. Of course, there are already various kinds of regulation of adult material, e.g. broadcasting standards that restrict the screening of adult material on terrestrial television. But the internet is not like television. What is an appropriate model of content regulation for broadcasting has been emphatically rejected as inappropriate for the internet, which is more like print media.
Another concern is that filters would not only target ‘pornographic’ and ‘adult' material but also any content deemed ‘harmful’, ‘inappropriate’ or ‘unacceptable’, terms which are even less amenable to clear and objective definition. For example, would a music video of Lady Gaga on YouTube be filtered? Under current proposals, this may well be the case. In Indonesia, the singer was recently denied entry in the country to perform a concert on the ground that her outfits and dance moves would ‘corrupt’ the country’s youth.
Filtering pornography or adult content by default at network level would also have a disproportionate impact on freedom of expression. First of all, it would basically entrench a system whereby the vast majority of the population would only be given access to what is fit for children by default - and this in the absence of conclusive evidence that access to pornography and other ‘inappropriate’ material is even harmful to children. It might be worth remembering at this point that teenagers have always found ways to find pornography in the offline world, even before the internet.
Secondly, as ARTICLE 19 has already pointed out several times, the decision as to what is acceptable or not – and therefore what may be filtered or not - should not be left to ISPs who are ill-suited to make such judgements. In our view, content restrictions on the internet are plainly unnecessary. If, however, they were to be adopted, they should at the very least have a clear legal basis and the question whether or not they are justified should be decided by the courts on a case-by case basis.
Thirdly, as it is well well-known, web filtering and blocking are far from perfect with obvious risks of overblocking, i.e. blocking perfectly legitimate content. The Open Rights Group has already documented how this already happens with mobile broadband filtering.
Fourthly and equally well-known is the fact that blocking and filtering are largely ineffective because they can be easily circumvented using proxies and other techniques. Indeed, several websites on the internet offer circumvention technologies. A recent example is the blocking of the Pirate Bay, a file-sharing website. After the UK and Dutch courts ordered ISPs to block the Pirate Bay, a flurry of other sites mushroomed offering access to it.
Finally, if default-blocking becomes acceptable for the protection of children online, there is a real danger that it would be extended to other types of content, leading to a slippery slope towards massive online censorship.
Opt-in filtering systems imposed by government or commercial service providers are clearly a disproportionate restriction on freedom of expression. Primary responsibility for protecting children online lies with their parents. If parents want to control what their children do online, they should install the filtering software of their choice and control their settings, rather than impose a Victorian, 19th century view of what is appropriate content on everyone else.
Join the debate - Article 19 (17.05.2012)
(Contribution by Gabrielle Guillemin - EDRi-member Article 19 - UK)
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European Union: Have your say! Your rights, your future
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