Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Digital Economy Bill, EU Telecoms Reform - links etc

The Digital Economy Bill with (as expected) the controversial 3 strikes (or just 1 strike??) internet cut-off provisions, was introduced in the House of Lords last week - links below. Initially having in its sights copyright-infringing peer to peer file sharing of music files, its scope is potentially far, far wider.

Is the Bill compatible with the EU Telecoms Reform Package "internet freedom" provision, which was intended to guarantee preservation of human rights in this context (freedom of expression / access to information, fair trial)? The Telecoms Reform Package was approved by EU Ministers on 20 November and approved by the European Parliament today. Timetable said to include:

  • Entry into force of the whole telecoms reform package with its publication in the EU's Official Journal (planed for 18 December 2009);
  • Transposition of the telecoms reform package into national legislation in the 27 EU Member States (by June 2011).

Now in this context, although Out-Law thought the Bill was compatible with the internet freedom provision, it's interesting to see what Commissioner Viviane Reding said yesterday in Barcelona on the Spanish proposals (emphasis added - note the reference to the need for a judge!):

"In this regard, I've been following with interest the discussions in Spain, first between operators and associations of copyright holders, and now in the inter-ministerial Commission. I would like to stress the need for any possible legislative initiative to comply with the agreement reflected in the Telecoms Reform Package. Spanish measures that would allow for the cutting off of internet access without a prior fair and impartial procedure in front of a judge is certain to run into conflict with European law. The case of France has shown that national constitutional law may raise even more immediate barriers to such proposals. I therefore invite the Spanish authorities to consult very closely with the European Commission before heading into a direction which could soon turn out to be a blind alley."

There seems little sign of the UK government consulting "very closely" with the European Commission on the Bill. Earlier today, Out-Law repeated their view that a judge need not necessarily be involved before an internet disconnection could take place.

I must say I've not had the chance to look at the Bill properly yet, so more - probably much more! - about it anon, but for now here are some links on it I've been building up and some brief notes:

Primary sources

Official summaries, commentary, background

News articles, comment etc

Just a few here but there have of course been lots of news items about this:

©WH. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike England 2.0 Licence. Please attribute to WH, Tech and Law, and link to the original blog post page. Moral rights asserted.