The European Commissioners are meeting today to decide the future of EU copyright policy. French Commissioner Michel Barnier is pushing for a set of control measures aimed at ISPs, web-hosts, social networking services, and related services that would force them to act as private police for the entertainment lobby, who would be able to direct them to spy on and block domains and users without judicial oversight or due process:
After the failure of mass-repression against online file-sharers, these same interest groups are now attempting to put repressive policies at the core of the network. By turning technical intermediaries (access providers, online service providers) into a private copyright police, these intermediaries would then be compelled to censor their networks and services by filtering their users' communications to prevent potential infringements.
Such a reversal of the legal framework would inevitably cause severe harm to fundamental freedoms, and in particular the right to privacy and to freedom of expression. By encouraging the circumvention of judicial authorities in order to set up direct blocking and filtering of the Internet and its services, European decision-makers would be laying the ground for a censorship infrastructure similar to that used for political purposes in authoritarian regimes.
Such a policy would run decisively contrary to our democratic values and the rule of law. It can only be explained by the blindness – if not the laziness -â€¯of European policy-makers listening solely to those segments of the entertainment industry whose economic models are still based on controlling copies. The Commission continues for instance to relay industry-originated figures that the U. S. Government Accountability Office has described in a recent report2 as mere fantasy.