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EU Parliament Backtracks On Illegal File Sharing Ban

The European Parliament has backtracked from a crucial amendment to its internet laws that aimed at safeguarding web users’ freedom in the online space.

In a landmark ruling, the EU Parliament has given the nod to the member states to disconnect persistent file-sharers from the internet.

The ruling comes as a result of increasing pressure from some of the member states to crack down hard on unrelenting file-sharers by adopting some stringent anti-piracy laws.

With its latest proclamation, the Parliament has dropped an important amendment to its Telecom Package, dubbed as amendment ‘138’, which had been embraced twice by a huge majority in the plenary assembly.

The amendment would have stopped the member countries from disconnecting the persistent peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharers without court authority.

The French government has already approved the plans which would force ISPs to cut-off the parties found guilty of continued file-sharing for up to a period of one year.

In spite of assurances from the cultural secretary Ben Bradshaw, the UK government is also likely to usher in a clause about cutting off persistent offenders from the internet in its new file-sharing policy.

Amendment 138 had sought to make the internet access a “fundamental right”, as it stated: “Any such measures liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be taken in exceptional circumstances...and shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights”.

Our Comments

This is a catch-22 problem. If governments start to disconnect file-sharers, will this infringe on their human rights? Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that people can be falsely accused of illegal filesharing either because of malicious actions (by third parties) or simply by administrative mistakes.

Related Links

Europe backs down on piracy plans (opens in new tab)

(BBC)

EU Parliament drops amendment to restrict unlawful p2p disconnections (opens in new tab)

(Think Broadband)

EU parliament drops opposition to cutting off Web users (opens in new tab)

(Total Telecom)

EU in web U-turn to allow member States to ban illegal file sharers (opens in new tab)

(Silicon Republic)

EU to allow web controls (opens in new tab)

(The Inquirer)

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.