Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe slams Internet censorship, copyright disconnection

A new report from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) called "Freedom of Expression on the Internet" is intensely critical of Eurpean moves to censor the Internet, and is especially down on the French Hadopi rule that makes provision for disconnecting Internet users when someone is accused of using their network connections to infringe copyright. The OSCE rapporteur's conclusions are in line with the recent UN condemnation of Internet censorship and declaration that network access is a human right. Ars Technica's Nate Anderson's prepared some highlights from the report:
"Three strikes": "The increased use of so-called 'three-strikes' legal measures to combat Internet piracy is worrisome given the growing importance of the Internet in daily life... This disproportionate response is most likely to be incompatible with OSCE commitment on the 'freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.'"

Internet kill switch: "Existent legal provisions allow several OSCE participating States to completely suspend all Internet communication and 'switch off' Internet access for whole populations or segments of the public during times of war, states of emergency and in cases of imminent threat to national security. Reaffirming the importance of fully respecting the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the OSCE participating States should refrain from developing, introducing and applying 'Internet kill switch' plans as they are incompatible with the fundamental right to information."

Web blocking: "As blocking mechanisms are not immune from significant deficiencies, they may result in the blocking of access to legitimate sites and content. Further, blocking is an extreme measure and has a very strong impact on freedom of expression and the free flow of information. Participating States should therefore refrain from using blocking as a permanent solution or as a means of punishment... Blocking of online content can only be justified if in accordance with these standards and done pursuant to court order and where absolutely necessary. Blocking criteria should always be made public and provide for legal redress."

Yet another report: Internet disconnections a "disproportionate" penalty

Freedom of Expression on the Internet (PDF)


  1. When was the last time 3-strikes was a good meme outside of baseball? You’d think it would have a bad enough rep by now that politicians would avoid using it for anything. After all, if politicians are good at anything, it’s re-branding the same old BS.

  2. I think a “kill switch” is probably a bad idea, but an “isolation switch” might be a good thing to have. One that quarantines a nation from an outside unstoppable viral pandemic or concerted persistent attack on many major infrastructure nodes. This would allow the citizens to freely talk to each other and their government, but temporarily cut of internet communication to the rest of the world. Of course, this could be misused and people who are more knowledgeable might suggest a better way of accomplishing the same protective outcome, but it might be worth having.

    1. The first thing that springs to mind with an isolation switch would be disconnecting Egypt from the Internet whilst the government engages in pogroms and repression. Far too easy to abuse, pretty unlikely to be needed, I’d guess. Whilst I can see your point @johngomm, it feels like a movie plot threat, rather than a likely one.

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