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.

Press Release: EuroISPA welcomes new member to association, asut

Brussels, 19 March 2020EuroISPA, an association of European Internet Services Providers, today announces newest member to the association during its General Meeting. asut, a Swiss association for internet service providers, advocates for the ongoing development of the Swiss ICT sector.

Dr Maximilian Schubert, President of EuroISPA, said, “We are delighted to be welcoming EuroISPA’s newest member, particularly as we consolidate cooperation across Europe and beyond the EU borders. The influence that ISPs can have on consumers and societies is continually growing; as such, it is increasingly necessary for the industry to come together and address concerns together. With a Swiss member in the association, we will be better able to address issues that are facing our neighbour, and which also affect our other members across the continent.”

EuroISPA is a pan-European association which represents over 2,500 ISPs across the European continent. The association advocates for the needs of the wider internet industry, particularly in relation to safer internet, cybersecurity, data protection, and innovation, working to ensure that the industry priorities are highlighted to external stakeholders. The General Meeting gathered representatives of ISPs from across the continent to discuss concerns facing the industry, including cybersecurity and intermediary liability, and how these impact on consumers and society.

A leading Swiss association for ISPs, asut encompasses ISPs from across the jurisdiction taking into account how best to promote the needs of the industry in Switzerland, as well as Swiss consumers. As the voice of the Swiss ICT and telecommunications industry in sectors ranging from economics, to politics and administration, it works towards establishing a competitive landscape for industry players.

“It is increasingly important that the role and impact of ISPs on our societies be emphasized and addressed in a coordinated manner. Our General Meetings are important moment to focus on our mission to make the internet safer and more privacy focused. Our joint endeavours with old and new members alike are what will have a multilateral impact on the industry; and with asut now among our association, we are excited to be continue expanding ISP cooperation beyond EU borders,” concluded Schubert.

Press Release: EuroISPA coordinates event on encryption and data protection with European Internet Forum

Brussels, February 18, 2020EuroISPA, an association of European Internet Services Providers, coordinates an event today to discuss encryption at the European Parliament together with the European Internet Forum (EIF). With data encryption as the core of its agenda, the event is hosted by MEPs Patrick Breyer and Rasmus Andresen, and gathers industry experts, policy makers, stakeholders, and civil society to discuss the future of encryption and data protection.

EuroISPA, a pan-European association which represents over 2,500 ISPs across the European countries, advocates for the needs of the wider internet industry, particularly in relation to safer internet, cybersecurity data protection, and innovation. Encryption tools are part of the framework which allow internet and online services to be trusted and ensure ongoing cybersecurity and data protection. The absence of encryption weakens this trust, and concerns about illegal activities online have led to debates around the decryption of data for crime investigations and interception of criminal communication.

Dr Maximilian Schubert, President of EuroISPA, stated, ‘In discussing encryption, it is crucial to have an evidence-based exchange of information on the security issues a lack of encryption presents. EuroISPA aims to highlight the crucial role of encryption in enhancing users’ privacy, trust in the internet, and free expression online. Weakening encryption through software backdoors puts these at risk: while such tools might initially help law enforcement to prosecute criminals, in the long run they can potentially be exploited by hackers or even enable mass surveillance. As such, there can be no middle ground in designing online security. We hope that by gathering experts from Europe and afar, this event will help establish a clearer exchange of knowledge around these issues, and highlight both the industry’s and users’ requirements.’

Gathering attendees from across Europe, the event aims to allow for a balanced exchange on the benefits and concerns around the protection of encrypted data. Speakers include, Bert Hubert, Founder of PowerDNS, Cathrin Bauer-Bulst, Acting Head of the Cybercrime Unit, European Commission DG HOME, Ceren Ünal, Regional Policy Manager Europe, Internet Society, and Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Internet Archive Fellow, Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as EIF members.

‘An effective exchange of ideas and the establishment of priorities should be at the core of policy decisions that impact on the data privacy and cybersecurity of consumers and users, and therefore on their fundamental rights. At EuroISPA, we hope that enabling multilateral discussions will lead to a broader understanding of the implications of data decryption, as well as allowing for an exploration of alternate ways of assisting law enforcement whilst protecting user rights,’ concluded Schubert.

Terrorist Content Online: EuroISPA concerned as Commission privatises law enforcement

Brussels, 12 September 2018- Less than one week after the transposition of the Directive on Combatting Terrorism, the European Commission has published its proposal on “preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online”. EuroISPA strongly criticises the steps towards the further privatisation of law enforcement, as the proposal would oblige hosting service providers to proactively decide on the legality of allegedly terrorist content, with profound implications for fundamental rights and freedoms. Malcolm Hutty, Intermediary Liability Chair, stated: “Handing off responsibility for detecting terrorist content to internet intermediaries is passing off one of the State’s most fundamental responsibilities. Internet companies can neither identify terrorist content reliably, nor act as guarantors for freedom speech. Only competent public authorities have the ability to protect both our safety and our freedoms. The proper role for Internet companies is simply to act swiftly to remove material that an independent authority has determined to be illegal by due process of law”.

With this proposal the Commission mandates a large part of the Internet value chain to proactively decide on the legality and nature of content online, following a risk assessment of their service. Such requirements, combined with vaguely defined duty of care obligations are deeply worrying, raising issues of transparency, legal clarity, accountability and certainty. As a result, fundamental freedoms of expression as well as of sharing and receiving information are endangered.

The proposal’s provision for a one-hour timeframe poses risks to due process and legal clarity. This timeframe, combined with sanctions, is simply not feasible for SMEs, who do not have the resources to provide a 24/7 service. Therefore, an SME exemption should be included, in order not to disadvantage SMEs vis-à-vis larger platforms.

The included data retention obligation, running contrary to existing case-law, is equally concerning. The vast range of data covered by the scope of the Regulation will ultimately endanger European users’ privacy. Moreover, the possibility for competent authorities to renew the data retention obligations an unlimited number of times might prove extremely burdensome for SMEs.

While technological progress and service providers’ efforts have led to a higher rate of removal of terrorist content in recent months, filtering only constitutes a quick fix. It does not solve the root issues of dealing with the perpetrators or providing justice to victims.

Dedicated Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) and referral units, such as Europol’s Internet Referral Unit, work closely in collaboration with Internet Service Providers (ISPs). These existing procedures have dramatically accelerated the removal of terrorist content online. However, EuroISPA expresses its concerns over the tendency in privatising law enforcement activities, placing this responsibility in the hands of ISPs. EuroISPA calls for careful consideration of this proposal, to strive towards greater legal clarity, transparency and accountability in line with legal safeguards. Due consideration should be given to already existing voluntary processes, and the close cooperation between industry and law enforcement. This voluntary approach has proven thus far to be efficient and effective in tackling terrorist content online.

EuroISPA brings EU policymakers and industry together to discuss progress in efforts to create a safer Internet

Brussels, June 19 – On the morning of June 17, EuroISPA brought together leading EU policymakers to discuss the industry-led efforts to protect children online, in a policy breakfast co-hosted by MEPs Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP) and Caterina Chinnici (S&D) in the European Parliament.

The Towards a Safer Internet for Children gathering focused on the crucial role played by the network of European Internet Hotlines, and the instrumental value of EU co-funding in sustaining the fight against Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) online.

MEPs Corazza Bildt and Chinnici facilitated the discussion in their capacity as co-chairs of the Parliament’s recently-formed Intergroup on Children’s Rights. The Intergroup features MEPs from across the Parliament’s committees and political groups, and seeks to bring new emphasis to children’s issues in the Institution’s work. Attendees at the event included MEPs, officials from the European Commission and Council of Europe, and Internet Service Providers from across the EU.

In his keynote presentation, EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Paul Durrant briefed attendees on the long-standing activity of EuroISPA in the area of child protection online. Focusing specifically on the Association’s stewardship of several national Hotlines dedicated to fighting CSAM, he thanked EU policymakers for their support in sustaining the fight thus far, but warned that the current gains were at risk if European Commission co-funding of Hotlines is not secured beyond its current expiration in 2018.

EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Paul Durrant said: “As the voice of Europe’s Internet Services Providers, EuroISPA abhors the misuse of our networks by those users who circulate Child Sexual Abuse Material. We will continue to work with policymakers in the Commission and Parliament to sustain the network of Internet Hotlines and build on the strong results to date”.

MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP, Sweden) said:“The safety and protection of children on the Internet is a top priority for the Intergroup on Children’s Rights. It’s important for us to continue this constructive dialogue with industry, as we, as legislators, don’t have all the solutions. We call on the industry to continue to take its shared responsibility to invest in finding innovative solutions. Lets join forces for a safer Internet for our children”.

MEP Caterina Chinnici (S&D, Italy) said: “We are here today to highlight the instrumental role played by EU co-funding in fighting crimes against children online. The maintenance of EU co-funding for European Hotlines will be essential if we are to maintain and build upon the encouraging progress made thus far.”

EuroISPA in South Korea to promote innovation-friendly intermediary liability environment

Brussels, 01 June 2015 – EuroISPA President Oliver Süme was in Seoul last week, addressing the South Korean Open Net-Harvard Berkman Center seminar on intermediary liability. Mr Süme briefed attendees on the liability environment facing European Internet intermediaries, and advised on the necessity of an innovation-friendly legislative framework to underpin economic growth.

Mr Süme’s address focused specifically on the European Union’s 2000 E-Commerce Directive, the legislative infrastructure that defines the European intermediary liability environment. In addition to unravelling the legal character of the Directive, Mr Süme also gave an insight into how the Directive has impacted on the operating environment for European ISPs on the ground.

The event featured addresses and panel discussions from other intermediary liability experts in the international community. It comes as South Korean lawmakers begin discussions on a new liability environment for intermediaries in the country and was organised to provide international perspectives on the makeup of an effective legislative framework. The audience included South Korean politicians, academia, civil society and industry actors.

The South Korean regulatory outlook is of particular interest to European ISPs, especially given the concern among the ICT community that recent amendments to the Korea Copyright Act may conflict with the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Indeed, the obligation for Online Service Providers operating in South Korean to filter content under what is effectively a Notice and Staydown mechanism is contradictory to the FTA, especially in the context the recent EU Court of Justice rulings that prohibit the kind of general monitoring that a filtering obligation requires.

The Open Net engagement continues EuroISPA’s latest targeted campaign around intermediary liability, in the context of the Commission’s recently-published Digital Single Market Strategy. It follows the EuroISPA event Intermediary Liability in the Digital Single Market and recent media op-eds and European Parliament engagements by EuroISPA Officers.

Speaking after the event, EuroISPA President Oliver Süme said: “Europe is a key player in the global Internet environment, and as the voice of the continent’s Internet sector EuroISPA takes every opportunity to use its experiences in Europe to help drive innovation-friendly smart regulation in a global context.”


Stakeholders briefed on key intermediary liability issues at EuroISPA BOZAR event

The exhibition space of Brussels’ BOZAR EXPO was the scene of intense policy discussion on Monday 11 May, as policymakers and industry stakeholders gathered for EuroISPA’s Intermediary Liability in the Digital Single Market briefing. The lunch event featured a keynote speech by Mrs Jasmin Battista, Member of Cabinet, Commission Vice-President Ansip.

Mrs Battista took the opportunity to brief attendees on the Commission’s thinking regarding the Digital Single Market strategy, particularly in the context of the liability of intermediaries. The event was attended by over 70 key stakeholders. Participants included policymakers in the European Commission and Parliament, high-level digital policy officials from the Belgian government, as well as representatives from leading industry players and stakeholder associations.

In addition to engaging with an authoritative Commission official on the nuances of the Digital Single Market strategy, attendees were also offered the unique opportunity to partake in a guided tour of the Google Cultural Institute. The Institute, which celebrates the fusion of technology and culture, is currently on tour at BOZAR from its home in Paris.

Speaking at the event, EuroISPA President Oliver Süme said: “EuroISPA is delighted to have had the opportunity to welcome Mrs Battista to our policy discussion at BOZAR. As someone deeply involved in the crafting of the DSM strategy, Mrs Battista brings unrivalled insight into the Commission’s thinking. We look forward to hosting similar such events in the future, events that encourage deep policy discussion among the many stakeholders in Europe’s digital transformation.”

Success of DSM strategy will depend on innovation-friendly intermediary liability environment

Tomorrow’s publication of the Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy will be a key moment in the drive to create an enhanced and competitive digital Europe,  open to operators of any size, nature and establishment. That said, the European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA) believes it is paramount that policymakers remain focused of the necessity of an innovation-friendly liability environment for Internet intermediaries. Without such, we fear the strategy’s lofty ambitions will be jeopardised.

The commitments the DSM will make on topics such as copyright reform, the free flow of data, and cross-border e-commerce constitute positive steps. Indeed, as having been a key participator in policy discussions on many areas of the strategy for several years, EuroISPA welcomes the Commission’s ambitions.

Nonetheless, it is paramount that we take this moment to reflect on the legislative infrastructure that forms the basis of a truly digital single market in Europe. An innovation-friendly intermediary liability environment, as prescribed by the 2000 E-Commerce Directive, will define the strategy’s success. We welcome the Commission’s acceptance in the DSM strategy that the intermediary liability environment enshrined in the E-Commerce Directive “has underpinned the development of the Internet in Europe”.

However, we are concerned about the impending strategy’s proposals to tackle illegal content online. The use of concepts such as “due diligence” and “duty of care” suggest that Internet intermediaries (as opposed to law enforcement authorities) will be asked to perform value judgments concerning the legality of certain pieces of content on the Internet. Such a legislative environment would place unworkable obligations on intermediaries, and would undermine the role of the courts in determining disputes over competing rights.

EuroISPA President Oliver Süme said: “EuroISPA looks forward to working with EU policymakers to ensure the right legislative infrastructure is maintained. The existing EU intermediary liability ethos has allowed Europe to be innovative, connected and competitive in all things digital. By maintaining this ethos when implementing the DSM strategy, EU policymakers will have the best chance of unleashing the digital single market’s growth and jobs potential.

New data on performance of Hotlines highlight their essential role in creating a safer Internet for children

New data on the performance of European Internet Hotlines has further highlighted their effectiveness as a means of fighting Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) online. The data, compiled by the INHOPE network of 51 Hotlines in 45 countries worldwide, point to an ever-improving reporting and takedown rate of illegal content.

In 2014, 98{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d} of verified reports of CSAM on the Internet were forwarded to law enforcement within 24 hours. This represents an 8{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d} increase since 2011, a notable improvement given the already impressive figures.

Moreover, the coordination of CSAM removal between Hotlines, law enforcement, and Internet Services Providers has continued its upward trend. 93{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d} of verified CSAM was removed from public access within 72 hours, a 13{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d} improvement on the previous year.

These latest INHOPE figures illustrate the essential role played by the global network of Internet Hotlines in ensuring the effectiveness of the Notice and Takedown mechanism. EuroISPA remains a proud partner of INHOPE, with the 2300 ISPs represented by EuroISPA cooperating with and supporting Hotlines to create a safer Internet environment for children. In addition to this, EuroISPA members in Germany, France, Ireland and Austria oversee the management of their countries’ national Hotlines.

EuroISPA Safer Internet committee Co-Chairs Carole Gay and Paul Durrant said, “These figures highlight how an integrated network of Hotlines is essential for coordinating the fight against CSAM, a fight that is not confined by national borders. 

It is essential that the European network of Hotlines remains strong, through sustainable European Commission co-funding. The fight against CSAM is a societal one; and industry cannot be expected to carry the burden alone.”

See a full overview of the INHOPE Hotline data for 2014