Recap of Past Event: Beyond Content Removal

On 17 May 2021 EuroISPA hosted its second online event in the DSA in Focus series, which focused on provisions in the Digital Services Act (DSA) going beyond the notice and action processes, such as measures on codes of conduct, the know your business customer principle, trusted flaggers, and risk mitigation for very large online platforms (VLOPs). You can watch the full recording of the event here or below.

The event, which was made possible by LINX, featured a distinguished expert panel which examined the topic in great detail. It included Mr Prabhat Agarwal, Head of Unit in charge of E-Commerce and Platforms at DG CNECT in the European Commission, Mr Marco Pancini, Director of Public Policy at YouTube, as well as Ms Heleen Uijt de Haag, Deputy Director at the Dutch Digital Economy Department within the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. EuroISPA’s President Alexandra Laffitte moderated the panel, whilst Malcolm Hutty, Chair of EuroISPA’s Intermediary Liability, framed the conversation with introductory remarks.

Malcolm Hutty opened the session with several questions for the panel and general remarks. He welcomed the KYBC’s focus on marketplaces, and stressed the importance of codes of conduct. When it comes to the role of trusted flaggers, he challenged the proposal, asking whether the “concept loses value if the right to decide who is trusted is removed from the operator”. As regards risk mitigation and VLOPs, he stressed that the provision, as currently drafted, would risk to create uncertainty for businesses, as the list of risks is currently open ended.

When illustrating the Commission’s chosen regulatory approach, Prabhat Agarwal recognised the success of self-regulation in addressing emerging phenomena swiftly. However, he explained that the limitations of self-regulation have made it necessary to make binding some of the existing voluntary frameworks. In this respect he noted: “We continue to think that coregulation plays a crucial role and the DSA is not the end of it”.

Marco Pancini provided the audience with interesting details about YouTube’s trusted flaggers’ programme. He said that, thanks to such systems, whenever platforms receive referrals from experts these are taken into account with the appropriate level of priority. He pointed out that “YouTube’s  goal is to leverage positive exchanges with experts, improving the quality of our content moderation activities”.

Heleen Uijt de Haag welcomed the Commission’s proposal, describing it as well-balanced. She appreciated that the main principles of the E-Commerce Directive, such as the limited liability for service providers and the county of origin principle, are maintained. When referring to the topic of trusted flaggers, she said that “we need safeguards to ensure the mechanisms are not abused, as this could have detrimental effects on freedom of speech online, and the right to privacy”.

Panellists then had an open discussion with the audience, focussing on issues such as the modalities to appoint trusted flaggers, the know your business principle, and ways to tackle disinformation in the context of the current pandemic.

EuroISPA would like to extend its gratitude to the speakers for sharing their insights on the new DSA, contributing to yet another successful DSA in Focus event. We look forward to our third session, which will take place in June, and which will focus on reporting obligations and transparency in the context of the DSA.

For further information on the upcoming events visit our dedicated webpage on euroispa.org/dsa-in-focus

EuroISPA criticises strict one-hour takedown deadline in the new Terrorist Content Regulation

April 30 2021 – Brussels

Following last week’s adoption of the EU Regulation to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online by the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs), the Regulation has now been adopted by the Plenary in second reading, without a final vote.  

Malcolm Hutty, Chair of the Intermediary Liability Committee, commented: “While we welcome several improvements in the final text, EuroISPA regrets the inclusion of an inflexible one-hour timeframe to execute removal orders. Forcing companies to move too fast will inevitably impair the quality of decisions and will risk inappropriate removals of legitimate content and mis-use of the system. This will be especially problematic for smaller businesses without previous experience of encountering terrorist content, who will not have pre-existing relationships with anti-terrorist police and awareness of good practice guidance.”  

EuroISPA also notes that the text could be attacked at the domestic level leading to legal uncertainty for service providers. For instance, the final Regulation contains provisions which are similar to the rules established by the French Law on tackling hate speech online (so called “Avia law”), which were declared to be unconstitutional by the French Constitutional Council in 2020.  

At the same time, EuroISPA notes some important positive changes in the final text. For instance, penalties determined by Member States will need to take into account the nature and size of the hosting service provider, mitigating risks of high sanctions for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). “It was important that the regulation does not stipulate obligations to use automatic tools and pursue active content monitoring. However, we will have to observe how the relevant rules will turn out in practice”, said Malcolm Hutty.  

Going forward, EuroISPA’s national members will maintain a constructive dialogue with their respective Competent Authorities and will keep tackling terrorist content online efficiently and responsibly, in order to ensure a safe Internet for EU citizens and businesses.   

EuroISPA shares its views on the Digital Services Act

Brussels, 31 March 2021 EuroISPA publishes its views on the Digital Services Act, reflecting the views of the European Internet industry.

EuroISPA is the voice of the European Internet industry, representing over 2,000 Internet Service Providers across Europe, all along the Internet value chain. As we have been engaging in discussions on intermediary liability and content moderation for over 20 years, EuroISPA is proud to share with the EU institutions and interested stakeholders its position on the Digital Services Act (DSA).

Overall, EuroISPA supports the DSA and its objectives to protect consumers and their fundamental rights online, to foster transparency and accountability of online platforms, and to favour innovation, growth, and competitiveness within the Single Market. In particular, we welcome the European Commission’s decision to adopt an evolutionary approach maintaining the key principles of the E-Commerce Directive, such as the limited exemption from secondary liability, while creating a due diligence framework for intermediary services.

At the same time, EuroISPA believes that several changes would be needed in order to achieve a regulation that truly fosters innovation and growth in the Digital Single Market. Therefore, EuroISPA put forward recommendations on every chapter of the DSA, spanning from the definition of online platforms, to intermediary liability provisions, from the due diligence rules, to the overall governance structure.

You can download our position below:

NEWS: ePrivacy Regulation – EuroISPA welcomes progress but full alignment with GDPR remains crucial

Brussels, 10 February 2021 – EuroISPA welcomes the conclusion of the discussions in Council on the ePrivacy Regulation. After over four years of complex deliberations, we are now looking forward to the start of the negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission. The current text is the first step towards greater legal clarity and interoperability between the ePrivacy Regulation and the GDPR regimes. This clarity is needed for businesses in Europe to plan, operate, and innovate as well as to allow for the commercial support of the free and open internet. We welcome the introduction of further compatible processing and the performance of a contract as legal grounds for metadata processing. We believe that these must be preserved during the future negotiations if we want to have a coherent and harmonised EU data framework which ensures legal certainty for European businesses. However, we consider that further work on the text is still necessary.

We regret that the Council agreed text reinstated a previous version of the “compliance with a legal obligation”, so restricting even further that legal ground and diverging from the GDPR.

In view of the negotiations, we would like to reiterate the key areas which are worth clarifying:

  • Material scope: We believe that to ensure consistency in the EU acquis, it would be necessary to further define the interplay with the GDPR and clarify when the GDPR stops applying and the ePrivacy starts.
  • B2B processing: In the business-to-business (B2B) context, providers of electronic communications services generally will not have a relationship with the end-users of their services. Clarification is therefore needed that, in such circumstances, consent can be provided by the enterprise customer.
  • Enforcement: There is a need to ensure that supervisory authorities, and enforcement and cooperation mechanisms are consistent with the GDPR standards. We need to avoid a situation where providers could be subject to oversight by multiple supervisory authorities for the same activities across the EU.
  • M2M processing: The application to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications must be limited in scope to high risk instances, instead of applying to any kind of such communications, so as to limit the risk of making a wide range of critical enterprise processes highly burdensome.
  • Privacy-preserving technologies: The industry strives to keep developing privacy-protective data processing alternatives (i.e. on-device machine learning, new aggregation techniques, and other privacy-enhancing advances). The ePrivacy Regulation should not restrict innovative and privacy-protective new approaches that are designed to benefit individuals and strengthen their privacy online.

We look forward to the beginning of the negotiations and we remain willing technical partners to the institutions in defending the much-needed flexibility on the legal basis and the interoperability with the GDPR.

Statement: Jiri Kysela

Brussels, 16 December 2020: 

It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Jiri Kysela, a valued member of EuroISPA, who worked with us as a representative of CZ.NIC.

Jiri was a positive, agreeable, and serene man; he was a true role model for a European. Our association will greatly miss his contributions to our internal debates on digital policy. Most of all, we will remember with fondness the times shared in various EU capitals during our General Meetings.

We send our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Press Release: EuroISPA Announces Election of New Board

Brussels, 23 November 2020EuroISPA, the association of European Internet Services Providers, announces the appointment of it new board members, following an election during the latest General Meeting. The newly elected President, Alexandra Laffitte, was previously on the board as Treasurer and Vice-President; Innocenzo Genna takes on the role of Vice-President once more; whilst Thomas Bihlmayer joins the EuroISPA board as Treasurer in his first mandate. As members from FFTélécoms (France), AIIP (Italy), and eco (Germany), respectively, the new EuroISPA board reflects the multinational nature of the association.

Alexandra Laffitte (FFTélécoms) stated, “I am delighted to have been elected President of EuroISPA, and I look forward to continuing the work the association has achieved in the past years, and to building upon the work of the previous presidencies. This nomination is very humbling, and I would very much like to thank EuroISPA’s membership and extend my gratitude to Maximilian Schubert for having been an outstanding, forward-thinking President for the past two years. My time on the EuroISPA board over the past two years has given me great insight into the valuable work the association does. I am excited to continue to push forward EuroISPA’s programme and priorities in the context of policy issues like the Digital Services Act.”

Innocenzo Genna (AIIP) said, “It is a great pleasure to once more be part of the EuroISPA board. In the past years we have focused on the key policy topics that impact our industry and our members, and I look forward to contributing to this actively. While new European rules are expected to address the issues arising from the rise of digital markets and the conflicts with traditional industries, it is of utmost importance that the Internet remains an open space where innovators can launch and develop new services and business models beyond the limitations of legacy technologies and national borders; EuroISPA is in the interesting position of helping ensure this can happen.”

Thomas Bihlmayer (eco) added, “EuroISPA has a strong position in enabling its members from across the continent to be represented vis-á-vis EU policy makers, and I am happy and extremely honoured to have been elected as the association’s Treasurer. It will be an exciting challenge to help this association grow and expand, whilst working towards its goals and priorities. I look forward to further shaping the role and influence of EuroISPA with the new board, and thank the members for their trust in me to do so.”

As a pan-European association, EuroISPA represents over 2,300 ISPs across the European continent. The association advocates for the needs of the wider internet industry at EU level on specific policy issues, working to make sure that industry priorities are highlighted to external stakeholders. The board is elected every two years, and ensures the governance and daily running of the association, as well as ensuring the positioning of EuroISPA on key policy topics.

NEWS: EuroISPA co-signs letter on Terrorist Content Online Regulation

This week, EuroISPA co-signed a letter to representatives of the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and the European Commission on the fourth trilogue on the Proposal for a Regulation on Preventing the Dissemination of Terrorist Content online. We look forward to seeing the outcome of this trilogue, which we hope will take into account the items noted in this letter, including: clarifying the definition of terrorist content, empowering competent authorities to deal with this content effectively, ensuring that over-blocking does not take place, prohibiting general monitoring obligations for hosting service providers and protecting user data.

Read the letter here.

EuroISPA reponds to DSA public consultation

After over two years of hard work and collaboration, EuroISPA is happy to announce that we have submitted our response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the Digital Services Act. As an association we strive to find a balance between diverse needs, establishing a framework that stimulates EU businesses whilst protecting citizens online.

The Digital Services Act is comprehensive in scope and its impact on the ISP sector will be wide-ranging, as it will review the 20 year old E-Commerce Directive, which has proven essential for finding a balanced liability regime. As such, it has been a priority at EuroISPA to enable ongoing discussions on the DSA over the last two years, gathering insights from our members and coming to decisions that take into account the needs of players across the ISP sector and across the continent. 

Submitting our response is an important milestone for our work on this issue. Indeed, these are the exciting moments of EU-level policy activities, where we see the long discussions and hard work come to fruition, and where we see the needs and recommendations of industry experts being submitted straight to the hands of policy makers.

Read more here.

Annual Report 2019: The Voice of the European Internet Industry

We are happy to share with you our Annual Report for 2019, which documents the achievements and engagement of the association over the course of last year.

In 2019, EuroISPA has been able to engage on several important policy issues, focussing on intermediary liability, data protection, and the legal framework for the cross-border exchange of electronic evidence, among other things. We are proud of our continuing efforts and engagement on these files, and of being the first industry association to have established a position on the Digital Services Act, a particular priority in the coming years.

The Annual Report can be found here. We hope that you will enjoy reading it.

NEWS: EuroISPA signs letter to strengthen the fundamental principles of the E-Commerce Directive in new Digital Services Act, along with other industry players

June 2020

Spearheaded by Danish Entrepreneurs, Allied for Startups, and DSA4Startups, and signed by industry players including EuroISPA, the letter highlights that it is the opportune moment to re-examine the role of online platforms in the European economy and society, and to update the 20-year-old E-Commerce Directive through the upcoming review of the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The letter notes that the principles present in the E-Commerce Directive are crucial for the sector, as the directive “enshrines an important balance between the intermediary’s responsibilities and the user’s right to expression and information”. These principles include the limited liability regime, the prohibition of general monitoring obligation, and the country of origin principle. EuroISPA and the other signatories of this letter view that these principles should not be discounted in future discussions on the DSA, as they represent the key tenets of the European platform economy. 

The letter also underlines the need to take into account the growth of the industry in any regulatory changes made to the E-Commerce Directive, and emphasises the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to discussions. As the time for reviewing the DSA approaches, the letter’s signatories request that the new regulation take into account learnings gleaned from the COVID-19 crisis, be nimble and future-focused in its approach, and that it be clear and proportional, in order not to have unintended consequences for smaller actors in the space.

EuroISPA represents over 2,300 ISPs of all sizes across Europe and is an advocate for the needs of the wider internet industry; it is therefore particularly keen to support this, and similar activities. The association is now focusing on the open public consultation on the DSA, which will be crucial to bringing the already strong E-Commerce Directive up to speed with the current economic climate. The association aims to ensure that the industry priorities are highlighted to policymakers, in order to formulate a new balanced legal framework.

Read the letter in full here.