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

EuroISPA: Proposed NIS Directive text could hamper creation of a true digital single market

The proposed Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive could create significant barriers to the creation of a true Digital Single Market (DSM). In an open letter to Commissioners, their cabinets, and MEPs, the Security Alliance for Europe (SAFE) Coalition has highlighted the worrying shortfalls in the current Directive text.

The SAFE coalition comprises industry associations from along the entire Internet value chain, including EuroISPA. EuroISPA and its SAFE partners welcomes the EU’s increased policy focus on network and information security, as considerable cybersecurity gaps exist across the EU today.

However, SAFE is concerned by proposals to extend the scope of the NIS Directive beyond those services and infrastructures that are truly critical for the functioning of the state and the economy. Under the proposed text, Member States may retain the right to define those “essential” services and infrastructure falling under the new measures. Moreover, under the EU Council’s preferred text, individual Member States will have liberty to choose the technical security standards governing the Directive’s implementation. Ultimately, as Member States will almost certainly differ in their definitions and standards, Internet enablers will be forced to contend with a patchwork of different obligations, severely hampering their ability to effectively operate in a cross-border context.

As the date for the unveiling of the Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy draws nearer, it is crucial that the potential shortcomings in the current NIS Directive be corrected in order to ensure the strategy’s effectiveness. Indeed, while the Commission’s efforts to improve cross-border e-commerce, cloud computing and other pan-European services are commendable, the NIS Directive risks creating an environment where these goals are unobtainable.

SAFE believes that as the first European-level legislation in the field of cybersecurity, the NIS Directive has the potential to ensure effective and efficient security measures that benefit citizens and innovators. In that context, we call on policymakers in the EU Council and Parliament to adopt a text that both ensures trust in online services and allows Internet enablers to help create a true digital single market.

Read the full text of the SAFE letter to EU policymakers

EuroISPA Officer vows to drive digital transformation forward after election to European Internet Forum board

European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA) Officer Innocenzo Genna has been elected as a new member of the European Internet Forum (EIF) Board of Management. In his new capacity, Mr Genna will help the European political leadership to develop policy that is responsive to the challenges of the worldwide digital transformation.

Mr Genna brings to the EIF board a depth of experience of working within the EU policymaking sphere. He is an expert of European regulation and policies in the areas of Internet, telecommunications and ICT. Having played a leading role in EuroISPA for over a decade, he has worked with various actors in the digital sphere to help create a legislative environment that encourages innovation and secures the fundamental open characteristics of the Internet.

The EIF is at the crossroads of policymaking, industry, and civil society, and as such serves as a crucial space where insightful discussions on digital policy can take place. Mr Genna’s EuroISPA experience is an asset in this regard, as through its transversal membership of 2300 firms along the Internet value chain, the association occupies a pivotal position in the European digital landscape.

EuroISPA Officer Innocenzo Genna said: “The next three years promise to be eventful ones for the Internet sector. At this time the work of the EIF is more important than ever, and it is essential that the Forum’s Board facilitates insightful discussions that can feed into policymaking.  Alongside my fellow Board members, I aim to optimise the Forum’s impact as Europe continues this digital transformation”

EuroISPA President discusses future of Internet governance at IEEE summit

EuroISPA has been an active contributor to high-level discussions surrounding the future of Internet governance for many years. The recently published IEEE Summit Report on Internet Governance gives an insight into the Association’s recent work to create a governance environment that is fit for purpose.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Summit on Internet Governance took place in Brussels in December, and brought together business leaders, academics, and policymakers to discuss issues concerning Internet governance.

EuroISPA President Oliver Süme was participant in a panel discussion on the future of Internet governance alongside Megan Richards (Principal Adviser, DG Connect), Jean-Jacques Sahel (Vice-President Stakeholder Engagement for Europe, ICANN), and Mark Raymond (Assistant Professor of International Security, OU).

With his fellow panelists, EuroISPA President Süme discussed the role of ICANN, the growing complexity of Internet governance, and its politicisation in the context of the Snowden revelations. Addressing an audience of technology leaders and policymakers, the EuroISPA President stressed that “Internet governance is not a question of bodies but more a question of mechanisms and processes and indeed, the accountability of such processes.”

Further insight into President Süme’s contribution and the summit generally can be found in the just-published IEEE Summit Report on Internet Governance.

Future of national Hotlines hangs in the balance as MEPs vote on CSAM Resolution

The very existence of Hotlines dedicated to fighting Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) on the Internet may come under threat in 2016. This will be the case if the European Parliament adopts its Resolution on the fight against CSAM in plenary this Wednesday without amending the glaring omission on supporting Hotlines. 

The European Internet Service Providers (EuroISPA) represents national hotlines in Ireland, France, Austria, and Germany. Hotlines are essential to the process of “notice and takedown”, as they provide the means for members of the public to alert ISPs to the presence of suspected CSAM on the Internet. Hotline operators are trained in all legal issues surrounding CSAM, and liaise directly with law enforcement and ISPs around the world to ensure a safer Internet environment.

With the volume and complexity of reports increasing each year and funding already cut to the bone, many national Hotlines face financial difficulty. Thus far, European Hotlines have been supported by European Commission funding. But with this funding set to end permanently in 2016, most Hotlines will not be able to meet operational costs and will simply disappear.

In a letter to MEPs last week, EuroISPA implored lawmakers to use the Resolution to launch a discussion with the European Commission and Member States to find solutions to the Hotline funding crisis. If this does not occur, the system of Hotlines which has proven so effective in the battle against CSAM, may collapse.

EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Carole Gay said: “For years, Hotlines have been leading the fight to end the abhorrence of child sexual abuse material on the Internet. Unless MEPs act to highlight the Hotline funding crisis in plenary this Wednesday, the whole Hotline system across Europe will come under threat.”

EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Paul Durrant said: “If the Resolution is adopted as stands, we will have the contradictory situation of a European Parliament supporting the fight against CSAM, while at the same time undermining the very existence of the most powerful tool in the battle against such content.”

Read the full EuroISPA letter to MEPs on the Resolution on the fight against CSAM: 1503_Motion_for_resolution_on_CSAM

EuroISPA briefs MEPs on copyright in the digital era

Copyright is just one of the many fundamental rights of EU citizens, and can only be enforced as part of a balanced approach that reflects the importance of competing rights. This was the message delivered by European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA) Treasurer Innocenzo Genna in the European Parliament on Tuesday 3 March.

Addressing the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group (EFDD) workshop Towards a new legislation on Intellectual Property in the Digital Single Market, Mr Genna highlighted the perspective of Internet Service Providers on the nature of copyright in the digital age. The address briefed MEPs, civil society actors, and legal experts on the need for reform European copyright legislation to create an environment that harnesses innovation and supports new business models. Regarding ongoing policy discussions on the topic, Mr Genna stressed the role of legislators in striking the balance between competing rights in the digital sphere. ISPs, he noted, could not be expected to fulfill this task.

EuroISPA Treasurer Innocenzo Genna said: “The recent European Court of Justice rulings in the Sabam and UPC cases show that copyright enforcement measures must be balanced with, and show respect for the freedom to conduct business, right to privacy and the freedom of information. EuroISPA strongly believes that in these matters, enforcement and balance-striking is a matter for judges and legislators.”

Digital Economy and Society Index highlights enabling role of Internet Sector in European economy

The European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA) has welcomed the results of the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index, a study which further highlights the enabling role of the Internet sector across many areas of the European economy.

The report shows that 75{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d} of Europeans used the Internet on a regular basis in 2014, and that a growing number of citizens are using the Internet to access services traditionally confined to the offline world. Moreover, a growing number of European enterprises are opting to conduct business over the Internet, with increases in e-commerce (+1{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d}), e-invoicing (+1{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d}) and related web-based enterprise activities.

Indeed, the figures highlight how European citizens expect accessible content in the online sphere. In that context, EuroISPA welcomes Commissioner Ansip’s commitment in launching the Index to make it easier for Europeans to access digital content online. Geoblocking and an outdated copyright directive serve as barriers which need to be overcome to improve citizens’ online experience and enhance “digital Europe”.

Oliver Süme, EuroISPA President said “The Digital Economy and Society Index illustrates how the European economy has all the fundamentals to unlock immense digitally-driven growth in the coming years. The Internet sector has played, and will continue to play a key role in enabling various sectors of the European economy to exploit the benefits of digitalisation. With a growing number of Europeans using the Internet to conduct everything from banking to grocery shopping, the report’s figures point to the Internet sector’s role in facilitating Europe’s transition from a digital economy to an economy that has become digital”.

Read more:
The Digital Economy and Society Index

EuroISPA outlines state of play for European Internet industry at Steam Telecommunications Arena

The coming years will be crucial for the Internet and telecom sector in Europe, according to Innocenzo Genna of the European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA).  In an address to the 11th Telecommunications Arena in Istanbul on Friday 13 February, Mr Genna stressed the urgent need for the European institutions to find a future-proof framework to support economic growth and the rights of citizens.

Addressing stakeholders in the Turkish Internet and telecoms community, Mr Genna updated participants on the most important industry issues currently under discussion by policymakers in Brussels. The shape of the Digital Single Market strategy, a policy discussion to which EuroISPA is actively contributing to, defined the content of Mr Genna’s speech.

As part of a wide-ranging analysis of European-level policy, Mr Genna said “industry and technology are developing rapidly, and institutions and policymakers are searching to find a future-proof framework able to support economic growth while respecting interests and fundamental rights of citizens. The European Commission has begun this challenging task and EuroISPA, as representative of the main stakeholders of the sector, is committed to advise and represent the interests of the Internet industry in these policy discussions”