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European Parliament rejects 3 strikes rule, is VM listening?

# 24 April 2008, 02:47 by Frank

In addition to continuing to show contempt for customers’ privacy via their rapidly backfiring Phorm deal, Virgin Media recently outlined their plan to trample on customers’ civil liberties with their 3 strikes-and-you’re-out download policy. However, this policy also recently backfired in spectacular style with the unprecedented rejection of such an idea by the European Parliament.

In a vote held on April 10th, but not widely reported, hundreds of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) supported language which declared termination of Internet access to be in conflict with “civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness”, all core values of the European Union.

Previously to that, news broke on March 31 that Trade group the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) was working with Virgin to implement a “three strikes” policy, which would initially deal with music downloads. Unsurprisingly, UK ISPs are under significant government pressure to implement this system, or face legislation, despite the fact that such legislation would create a class of digital outcasts, forbidden from accessing the Net if repeatedly accused by music companies of downloading infringing content.

According to the Daily Telegraph, this would be the first time a British internet company has publicly moved to cut internet access based on the request of the BPI. Two years of negotiations between record labels and internet service providers (ISPs) have so far failed to produce an industry-wide agreement.

In stark contrast to Virgin Media, the third biggest Internet provider in UK and rival TalkTalk expressed a very firm position against the BPI actions and demands. Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse, was quoted on April 4 as promising to fight to protect customer’s rights using the law, saying:

“Our position is very clear. We are the conduit that gives users access to the internet. We do not control the internet, nor do we control what our users do on the internet. I cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would voluntarily disconnect a customer’s account on the basis of a third party alleging a wrongdoing.”

Guy Bono, who brought the resolution that is supported by members from all political sides, stated in the parliament:

“On this subject, I am firmly opposed to the position of some Member States, whose repressive measures are dictated by industries that have been unable to change their business model to face necessities imposed by the information society. The cut of Internet access is a disproportionate measure regarding the objectives. It is a sanction with powerful effects, which could have profound repercussions in a society where access to the Internet is an imperative right for social inclusion.”

The Electronic Freedom Foundation said on their website:

The entertainment industry originally intended the Bono Report on the Cultural Industries to be a stalking horse for their new approach, encouraging MEPs to insert language that would show support for copyright extension, banning Net users, and censoring the Net in the interests of rightsholders.

Instead it has turned into a watershed: a clear rejection of the strategy of forcing the telecommunications industry to act as a private police force for entertainment lobby — and a positive endorsement of the Net’s free flow of information, and a positive agenda for copyright reform. It seems like the music industry will remain the only group to believe that spying, filtering and punishing your own customers is a good idea: either for business, or for society as a whole.

To add to that quote: “It seems like the music industry [along with Virgin Media] will remain the only group to believe that spying, filtering and punishing your own customers is a good idea: either for business, or for society as a whole.”

The message is clear: the majority of European democratic representation has declared a 3 strikes internet access policy incompatible with fundamental rights.

The question is clear too: IS VIRGIN MEDIA LISTENING??

Further Reading

  • http://paigrain.debatpublic.net/?p=134
  • http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/04/european-parliament-sarkozy-no-three-strikes-here
  • http://www.laquadrature.net/en/european-parliament-rejects-graduated-response
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