[ArsTechnica] Proposed EU telecom amendments lack three-strikes provision
Here's the story that's been making headlines in Europe over the last few days: the EU is getting ready to impose Internet traffic monitoring fit for a police state, might ban all peer-to-peer software, and is ready to implement a "three strikes and you're off the 'Net" policy for users sharing copyrighted files. Gross exaggerations, of course, but you wouldn't necessarily know that if you'd read the news sections of online rights groups, or even the website of the venerable BBC. The phrasing in these reports appear to have originated in press releases from two Internet privacy groups that have what can be charitably called an overheated take on some of the EU legislation's provisions.
Ambiguities, not communism
That ambiguity hasn't stopped a number of groups from drawing some very unambiguous conclusions about those provisions. The BBC report echoes the contentions of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, which accused the European Parliament rushing towards a "Soviet Internet." That contention appears to be based on a provision on packet filtering. Benjamin Henrion, an FFI representative, also charged that the legislation will create some sort of software licensing authority. "Tomorrow," he stated, "popular software applications like Skype or even Firefox might be declared illegal in Europe if they are not certified by an administrative authority."
Those claims are reiterated and extended by the French group La Quadrature du Net, which issued an analysis (PDF) of several amendments last week. In addition to accusations of spying and censorship, the group decries a provision that they term "blackmail by e-mail." This would codify the use of warning letters sent to copyright infringers by ISPs. Oddly, these warning letters are conflated with the "three strikes" proposals, which would ban the infringers after repeated warnings. (The European Parliament rejected the idea of a widespread "three strikes" rule only a couple of months ago.)