The Quadrature Du Net Presents Its Proposals To Adapt Public Policies To The Internet's Technological And Social Realities
Following four main themes, these proposals aim to make this shared network into a tool for democracy and for the socioeconomic development of our society. These proposals cannot be discussed, let alone implemented, unless we know beforehand how to guarantee that our institutions work democratically, which requires above all that public debate is based upon transparency of information.
La Quadrature du Net's proposals follow key themes that emerged from our work with French and European legislation, but aim mainly to advance a balanced global vision of the Internet that we advocate:
- Networks and infrastructure: Internet governance, Net neutrality and platform neutrality;
- Fundamental rights in the digital space: censorship and freedom of speech, surveillance, whistleblower protection, personal data and digital footprints, the right to be forgotten and to remove oneself from search engines;
- File sharing and acknowledgment of the commons: digital commons, acknowledgment of peer-to-peer non-market sharing, creative contribution, public domain, promotion and preservation of the digital heritage.
Access to a Free and Open Internet
For about 15 years, summits on "Internet Governance" have drawn attention and have led us to believe that consensual rules could arise from multilateral (i.e, "multi-stakeholder") discussions in top-down processes. However, the latest summits (NETmundial, IGF Istanbul, etc.) show that nothing has emerged from these past 15 years of multilateral meetings, while in the meantime a number of political, economical and technological decisions have been made in order to undermine fundamental rights in the digital space. Multiple revelations have shown that technology can backfire on its users, as a means for surveillance, control and oppression.
Without strong international guarantees to protect the Internet as a common good, and a real involvement of citizens, all these "governance" actions are bound to be distorted by the interests of states and private companies.
Enshrine Net neutrality in law
- Lawmakers must adopt a legal definition of the Internet based on the neutrality principle, in order to ensure the sustainability of its technical architecture.
- The neutrality principle must apply to all Internet networks, regardless of access mode (landline or wireless). Exceptions to this principle in case of unforeseen congestion or threats to the network's security must be carefully crafted and overseen.
- Infringements to Net neutrality by operators must be subject to dissuasive sanctions.
- The balance between co-existing so-called "managed services" and the Internet on communications networks must be sustainable, in order to protect the quality of Internet access.
- The use of packet inspection technologies must be regulated in order to protect the privacy of electronic communications and their integrity.
- The April 2011 parliamentary report on Net neutrality (FR), and our answer (EN) to the European consultation on the matter;
- Our response (EN) to the European consultation on Net neutrality;
- Our report (FR) on Net neutrality;
- Our article (FR) published in the "cahiers" of the Arcep (French communications' regulator).
The question of platforms loyalty has to be considered in an universe where, increasingly, are linked the issues of control by the user of digital terminals (computer, tablet, mobile phone, other connected objects such as the one of quantified self, etc.), monopolistic situations in deed by some companies, taxation issues and revenue sharing. The point is not to discuss "platforms" loyalty in general, but rather their obligations, attached to functional roles and independently of their mode of organisation (centralized or acentric).
The Quadrature du Net notably defends the following points:
- Recognition of the role of the curator between the publisher (who publishes and selects data) and the web host (who does not intervene on the content).
- Define the notion of platform in order to determine the roles and obligations of the curator and of the platform: transparency, user control, data portability, etc.
Encourage the development of shared wireless networks
- The radio spectrum must become a public resource with the opening of shared, unlicensed frequency bands, similarly to the WiFi model.
- We need to rapidly experiment the use of new radio technologies allowing for the deployment of shared wireless networks (such as smart radio technologies and femtocells).
- People who share Internet wireless networks must be able to do so while benefiting from legal certainty.
Support the development of servers and terminals controlled by users
- In order to avoid any competition distortion, regulators must ensure that terminals are interoperable with different operating systems.
- Public authorities must support the use of free software, particularly in the context of procurements.
- Essential network resources, such as servers, should be made more accessible in order to ensure the decentralized nature of Internet.
Human Rights in the Digital Society
Freedom of communication and expression is of prime importance in the democratic order. It is what makes possible exchanging the ideas, opinions and information that shape our world vision; it is the foundation of free societies. The Internet is a technical and political disruption in that it gives everyone the ability to send and receive any information. In order to keep the scope of possibilities open, freedom of communication and other fundamental rights must be strictly protected on the Internet. Guaranteeing these rights requires the full application of the rule of law to the online public sphere.
Censorship and freedom of expression
- Any filtering obligation with the aim of preventing the publication of web content should be rejected. This constitutes a disproportionate interference with freedom of expression, incompatible with the values of rule of law.
- A moratorium on measures for blocking websites should be adopted, and the administrative blockage of websites should be prohibited.
- The practices of notice and staydown to prevent automatically the reappearance of online content should be seen as prior censorship and all related legislation should be thought thoroughly and be subject to assessment.
- The French LCEN law should be revised in order to put an end the extension of technical intermediaries' responsibility, which corresponds to a privatisation of the regulation of public expression and access to information on the Internet and in the wider digital world. In response, the so-called notice and notice procedures should be tested and, where appropriate, generalized for they guarantee both the right to freedom of expression and legal responsibility (notably the right to a fair trial).
- It is important to ensure the possibility to express oneself anonymously online.
- Human rights associations should be afforded the chance to defend interferences with freedom of speech before courts.
- Our response (FR) to the consultation on the European directive relating to information society services;
- The conclusions (EN) of the UN rapporteur for freedom of expression;
- The study (EN) from eminent European lawyers on measures for blocking online content;
- Our submission (FR) transmitted to the Constitutional Council on the law LOPPSI 2.
The Quadrature du Net has developed, particularly since the French Military Programming Act of 2013 and the revelations of Edward Snowden on the surveillance exercised by the NSA, analyses and proposals concerning the surveillance exercised by States on citizens.
- Interception of communications, which are at the heart of intelligence and surveillance legislations, must not be conducted without a warrant delivered by a judicial judge and should be controlled before, during and after the interception;
- Interceptions should not deprive citizens from substantial legal recourses, in compliance with the right to a fair trial. In the case of classified documents, the jurisdiction should be able to obtain declassification of documents when it estimates that the secrecy is not justified;
- Metadata and connexion data should be subject to the same conditions that should apply to content interceptions;
- Mass surveillance facilities for traffic data should be prohibited in a democracy;
- Universality of rights should be recognized and protected, therefore international surveillance measures should be suject to the same guarantees than national surveillance measures;
- Cooperation agreements with other intelligence agencies should be controlled by an independent institution;
- The right to encryption and anonymity online must be recognized;
- The development of secure tools and their use by citizens should be upheld and promoted, information on privacy and the impact of online surveillance should be a priority.
Protection of whistleblowers and confidentiality of sources
In the era of Edward Snowden's revelations on the surveillance practices of the NSA and its international partners as the French DGSE, the status of whistlebowers is more than ever at the core of political and legal considerations, notably with regard to surveillance issues. However, much remains to be done to fully ensure the public's right to information, without which there can be no genuine democracy.
The status of whistleblowers should benefit to anyone who reports, reveals, or denounces facts, past, present or future, which could violate rights or be in conflict with the common good or the general interest. Within the scope of surveillance, this status should allow people to derogate from the silence legally imposed by the State to its agents and service providers, to protect people who, like Edward Snowden and several other anonymous sources, allow for a real public debate on the excesses of the reason of state and security policies.
A directive published in 1995 by the European Union still rules today European citizens' private life on the Internet. It governs the collection, the processing and the selling of personal data. The new regulation under discussion since 2012 aims to correct a certain amount of the directive's weaknesses and to adapt the protection of personal data to the growing collection and processing of personal data.
La Quadrature du Net thought out proposals in order to ensure citizens the control and fair use of their persona data:
- Guarantee of informed consent of the user;
- Prohibition of profiling;
- Guarantee of the right to data portability;
- Clarification and security, for the user, of the concept of "legitimate interest";
- Limitation of "data pseudonymization" and promotion of a real anonymaization;
- The end of the "Safe Harbor" agreement and the prohibition of access to European citizens data by third parties, especially American public authorities in the purpose of intelligence.
Right to de-indexing
The Google Spain decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) dating from May 13th 2014 exposed the problem of the right to de-indexing and more widely of the right to be forgotten in relation with the right to freedom of expression and the right to information. This decision imposed to search engines, such as Google, to process requests of de-indexing from Internet users, delegating de facto to private entities a role normally performed by the judicial authority, which is the only one competent to guarantee individual civil liberties. This delegation of law enforcement powers is even more dangerous since the judgment is based on vague and general principles that do not give any guarantee of freedom of expression.
Recommendations on the right to de-indexing, abusively called "right to be forgotten" by the media, were elaborated during the summer 2014 by La Quadrature du Net and Reporters sans frontières (Reporters without Borders), following the judgment of the CJEU against Google Spain:
- Do not abusively apply the right to the protection of personal data to editorial contents
- Acknowledge the role of search engines in the access to information and their contribution to the exercise of freedom of expression
- Guarantee the exclusive jurisdiction of the judicial court to conciliate freedom of expression and the right to privacy
- Think about creating a new entity for mediation, allowing parties to the dispute to reach settlements (recourse to the judicial court remains the first step in case of unreachable agreement)
The Sharing of Culture and Knowledge
The Internet and digital technologies allow everyone to freely share digital information. Editing and modifying artworks (remix) is becoming a new mean of expression for an entire generation. Intellectual rights on information, whatever the information, have to adapt to this new context in order to encourage access and contribution to knowledge and culture. This requires putting an end to the war on sharing cultural works, and adopting policies that allow for the re-appropriation of culture and knowledge by the public.
To ensure that everyone among us could benefit from the opportunities offered by the digital era, we have to reform authors' rights and copyright legislation. La Quadrature du Net's platform of proposals (EN) provides a detailed analysis of the key points at stake in the reform and a set of proposals regarding copyright as well as proposals related to culture and media policies.
Recognize sharing legally and in practice
- The legitimacy of non-market sharing of cultural works between individuals must be recognized. The sharing of such works should be placed outside of the scope of copyright, for instance through the creation of a new exception.
- Digital Rights Management and other copy protections should be given up. They should be declared illegal when they prevent lawful uses of cultural works.
- Sharing technologies, such as peer-to-peer softwares, should not be prevented from thriving because of poor legal certainty.
For more information, please read the chapter on non-market sharing (EN) on our platform of proposals, “Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age” by Philippe Aigrain and the site of the book. For a shorter format see his article (EN) on the legitimacy of sharing. See also La Quadrature's response (EN) to the EU consultation on the future of the Cultural Economy. To finish, regarding the prohibition of Digital Rights Management (DRM) abusive uses, see the former Brazilian Copyright Bill (EN).
Explore new funding models for creation, information and for the media
- It is high time to create a “creative contribution” fund for creation and public expression in the digital age, pooled among all Internet users and contributors.
- A publicly accountable and independent watchdog should be established to analyse the data voluntarily provided by the public and define distribution keys.
- Collected funds will reward authors and creators (including, of course, those releasing their works under free licenses). They will also help fund new productions.
- Finally, it is necessary to enable the development of innovative business models by facilitating the commercial distribution of copyrighted works over the Internet.
Our proposals for new models of financing of digital culture are detailed on our platform of proposals (EN), but also in Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age, by Philippe Aigrain. You can also take a look at the Free Culture Forum's guide (EN).
Reinforce the public domain and make the digital heritage available to everyone
- After years of baseless policies in this field, it is necessary to return to a reasonable duration of copyright protection and of related rights.
- Public authorities must commit to an ambitious policy in favor of open data.
- We need to rethink the digitalisation of our cultural heritage and to support a distributed model allowing everyone to contribute to these cultural policies.
For more information, see our platform of proposals, the The Public Domain Manifesto (EN) and La Quadrature du Net's answer (EN) to the consultation on the Digitisation of the European Cultural Heritage. On open data, see the work (FR) of Regard Citoyens, a French association.
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