Commission finds solution on notice and takedown and it seeks the problem

By EDRi · December 15, 2010

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Deutsch: [Kommission findet Lösung für Notice and Takedown und sucht nun das Problem |]

On 15 December 2010, the European Commission held its third meeting on
“public private cooperation to counter the dissemination of illegal content
in the European Union.” The first meeting took place in November 2009 and the
second in May 2010.

After the previous meeting, the European Commission received written
comments jointly from EDRi and EuroISPA as well as a variety of industry
players. Six months later, the Commission finally reacted to that feedback,
sending participants revised recommendations on the evening before the

The Commission tried to open discussions on its recommendations for
extra-judicial takedown of material that has been accused of being illegal,
on grounds of containing child abuse, racism/xenophobia or terrorist
content. However, both industry and EDRi demanded repeatedly that the
Commission finally should define the problems that it believes it is
addressing by this initiative. Unfortunately, the Commission steadfastly
refused to do this. The Commission also chose not to answer a direct
question as to how this initiative complies with either Article 10 of the
European Convention on Human Rights (which requires a legal basis for
interferences with communication) and the 2003 Interinstitutional Agreement,
which obliges the Commission not to promote co- or self-regulatory measures
in relation to matters of significance to fundamental rights.

In the afternoon session, DG Information Society of the European Commission
explicitly stated that some Member States do not devote adequate resources
to addressing online child abuse and that it is “at the bottom of the
(priority) list” in some European countries. As a result, the Commission is
focusing on takedown of the criminal websites and is developing statistical
tools to assess the speed with which sites are deleted.

Contradicting repeated statements about the “need” to block websites in the
USA, Russia and Ukraine, the Commission explained that significant progress
was being made in those countries. This may not necessarily be such good
news – exporting a system where criminals are “punished” by having their
websites deleted rather than facing a judicial procedure in full respect of
the rule of law does little to respect the EU’s obligation to support
democracy and the rule of law internationally.

The Commission then invited an anti-spam initiative in order to allegedly
demonstrate how Internet intermediaries can regulate the online environment.

The meeting closed with industry stressing the lack of clarity about where
the process was meant to go, the relevance of the “recommendations”
published by the Commission and the fact that lack of resources in law
enforcement agencies cannot be solved by industry actions.

The Commission may or may not provide more guidance on whatever problem that
this process is supposed to solve, but asks for industry input on this.
Comments are requested by the end of January, with a working group meeting
planned for February and another “plenary” meeting in April.

Draft Recommendations

EDRi-gram: Joint EDRi/EuroISPA response to previous round of consultations

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)