Content Portability proposal encouraging, but greater ambition required to modernise copyright

Brussels, 09.12.2015 – In order to realise the aims of the Digital Single Market Strategy, considerable political courage and ambition is required.

On that basis, the European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA) welcomes the Commission’s new proposal for a Content Portability Regulation, a forward-looking initiative which we hope will allow the great many number of European citizens travelling cross-borders to benefit from their legally acquired digital content.

That said, we fear that today’s Copyright Modernisation Communication signals diminished momentum from the Commission to tackle some of the additional  barriers to a truly digital Europe.

Of the many strands of the Digital Single Market Strategy outlined on 6 May, the ambition to modernise Europe’s laggard copyright regime was an eye-catching one.

Indeed, adapting European copyright law to the dynamics of the digital age would contribute significantly to one of the Juncker Commission’s primary aims – to allow European consumers to do online that which they can already do offline. A modernised copyright framework would discourage piracy and provide for the overwhelming majority of European consumers who wish to legally acquire digital content but are presently blocked from doing so by legacy territoriality principles.

And for reform of EU copyright rules to be effective, there must also be provisions that allow for the emergence of new business models that supply digital content in ever more innovative ways.

Ultimately, for EuroISPA the Commission’s “gradual approach” to copyright reform must not retract into a “wait-and-see” one. We sincerely hope that when the Commission does come to publish its meaningful copyright reform proposals in 2016, it will signal a return to the political ambition that was so evident during the crafting of the Digital Single Market strategy.

Photo: Innocenzo Genna, EuroISPA Innovation & Growth committee chair. 

Legal clarity essential in the fight against radicalisation online

Brussels 26.11.2015 – The fight against radicalisation is one that demands a coordinated response, and EuroISPA members have always sought to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure the Internet remains a safe environment for all users. In order for ISPs to properly target radical content, judicial authorities need to supply ISPs with clear and specific judgements on what constitutes radical content on the Internet.

The Internet is a global public sphere, but standards of illegality are defined on a country-by-country basis. This creates a major dilemma for ISPs, as they simply do not have the sufficient legal resources, expertise and operational information to properly assess the context-dependent legality of content. The need for clear and specific judicial guidance on whether a piece of content is illegal is particularly important in the context of radical content, as such content can often be presented in non-local languages and framed in varying political and cultural contexts.

Without this clarity, ISPs are trapped between the risk of failing to properly identify illegal content and the risk of engaging in excessive censorship, thus undermining the fundamental rights of their users. The overwhelming majority of citizens use the Internet for its inherently empowering characteristics. And in that context, we must ensure that structures are in place such that ISPs’ efforts to remove radical content do just that, and not more.

Following the European Parliament’s resolution on preventing radicalisation we urge action to ensure that illegal content on the Internet is properly policed. It is essential that such effective action is underpinned by court authority, to ensure that the fundamental freedoms of European citizens are protected from those who would wish to undermine them.

Photo: EuroISPA President Oliver Sueme

Safe Harbour 2.0 must serve dual goals of innovation and data protection

07 October – On Wednesday the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) declared the EU-US Safe Harbour data transfer agreement to be invalid. In delivering its judgement, the Court ruled that the EU Commission does not have the competence to limit the powers of the national data protection supervisory authorities through the agreement.

As an initial reaction to the judgement, EuroISPA wishes to note that commercial data flows are central to facilitating transatlantic trade and such flows provide significant economic benefits to the EU economy. European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises have especially benefited from the certainty and practicality of Safe Harbour. Indeed, with SMEs constituting 60{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d} of Safe Harbour participants we fear that they will be hardest hit by any moves that hinder international data flows and fragment regulation along national lines. On that basis, it is essential that policymakers work to develop new guidelines that allow companies to transfer data across the Atlantic legally and securely.

For many years EuroISPA has been working to realise a legislative landscape that encourages innovation while safeguarding privacy and data protection. We thus urge EU and US negotiators to develop a new and improved Safe Harbour 2.0 that incorporates the concerns of the Court and that European users can have confidence in. The development of the Internet has empowered both digital innovation and citizens’ fundamental rights. It is essential that Safe Harbour 2.0 serves to further these two basic considerations.

Ultimately, this ECJ judgment has far-reaching consequences for the Internet industry and has created considerable legal uncertainty for many companies. We implore the European Commission, the US, the European Data Protection Supervisor and national data protection regulators to now develop, as quickly as possible, a new regime which maintains a high standard of data protection and at the same time creates a practical and innovation-friendly solution for companies. In the meantime, it is important to officially recognise the need for sufficient transition period allowing all parties to assess and adapt to the post-judgement environment.

EuroISPA welcomes launch of Get Online Week 2015

EuroISPA welcomes the launch of Get Online Week 2015, an initiative that celebrates the work of digital inclusion and empowerment organisations across the continent. As Europe continues the transition from the digital economy to an economy that has become digital, the educational initiatives celebrated by Get Online Week are crucial.

Owing to its transversal and innovative nature, the Internet sector is an enabler across many areas of the economy. As representative of over 2300 Internet Services Providers (ISPs) all along the Internet value chain, EuroISPA is a strong supporter of initiatives that help citizens benefit from this empowering character of the Internet.Get Online Week 2015 aims to promote digital skills and empowerment among the young, seniors, and the unemployed. Its activities are run locally, and over 50,000 citizens in 24 European countries will be engaged through the initiative.

Bart-Jan van Dijk, EuroISPA Vice-President said: “The continued growth of the Internet sector has created great empowerment opportunities for Europeans. Get Online Week, an initiative that seeks to equip more citizens with the skills to take advantage of this enabling role of our sector is thus crucial. As a key stakeholder in Europe’s digital transformation, EuroISPA remains a warm supporter of initiatives such as Get Online Week”

Advances in fight against online child abuse at risk after Parliament resolution

In a resolution adopted in Plenary today, the European Parliament has missed an opportunity to confront the impending funding crisis faced by Hotlines dealing with child sexual abuse material (CSAM). These hotlines have played a key role in the effort to secure a safer Internet environment for children for many years.

Prior to the Parliament’s resolution on CSAM, EuroISPA circulated a letter to MEPs highlighting the crucial role of Hotlines and the perilous financial situation they face. As representative of national Hotlines in Austria, Germany, Ireland, and France, as well as over 2300 ISPs who actively work to remove CSAM on the Internet, EuroISPA is disappointed by the Parliament’s resolution.

Hotlines are essential to the “notice and action” mechanism, as they provide the means for members of the public to alert ISPs to the presence of suspected CSAM on the Internet. But in June 2016, the Commission funding that these Hotlines rely so heavily upon will cease, ushering in a new era of financial uncertainty. If that happens these gains will be reversed, significantly slowing report processing times and threatening the very existence of some Hotlines.

EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Paul Durrant said, “The Parliament resolution on CSAM can only be described as an opportunity missed. Unless EU policymakers confront the issue of funding for Hotlines very soon, we face a situation where the whole system of ‘takedown and action’ will be under threat”.

EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Carole Gay said, “Hotlines ensure that 98{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d} of all user reports are forwarded to law enforcement agencies within one day. And in 91{326604f503d13f2b703ea6d6d6f2aff95b8843509e3b22769667493fe00ca42d} of cases, illegal content is deleted within three days. To lose these great advances that we’ve made in the fight against CSAM would be a disaster”.

Photo credit: Niksnut (Flickr)


EuroISPA Consultation on Online copyright infringement in Australia

EuroISPA is the pan European association of European Internet Services Providers Associations, representing over 2300 companies. We are recognized as the voice of the European ISP industry and are the largest umbrella association of Internet Service Providers in the world.

EuroISPA is following with concern the developments regarding the online enforcement of copyright in Australia.

While our members condemn digital piracy, they also consider that the focus of any initiative aimed at protecting copyright should be directed towards encouraging the creation of innovative, affordable content services, based on business models which are able to embrace the Internet revolution. This is a much more effective strategy than increasingly repressive legislation which will inevitably produce the opposite result and will only serve to maintain barriers to trade.

In 2013 the European Commission published a study[1] showing how “Internet users do not view illegal downloading as a substitute to legal digital music” and that “digital music piracy does not displace legal music purchases in digital format”. In addition, the study outlined a “positive effect of online streaming on music consumption channels” while pointing out that “illegal music downloads have little or no effect on legal digital sales”.

Hence, the political answer should not be in another set of measures to enforce copyright online, but on how to make copyright work in the digital environment. Technology enables rightsholders to create more and better services based on business models adapted to the digital age, so that consumers have the option of downloading lawfully, in the safest, most user-friendly format possible.

As World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Director General, Francis Gurry, stressed:

“any future copyright policy would have to strike a balance between the availability of cultural works to consumers at affordable prices while assuring a dignified economic existence for creators and performers. […] rather than resist it, we need to accept the inevitability of technological change and to seek an intelligent engagement with it” […] “there is, in any case, no other choice – either the copyright system adapts to the natural advantage that has evolved or it will perish”.[2]

It is clear that any extension of the authorisation liability in the Australian framework is going to impact negatively on the role and business of ISPs without evidence that it could help binding digital piracy.

EuroISPA also believes that voluntary agreements between Internet intermediaries and rightsholders for the enforcement of copyright risk not being an appropriate instrument to address digital piracy. Voluntary agreements undeniably shift the enforcement power from courts to Internet intermediaries, depriving alleged infringers and consumers of due process and a fair trial.

EuroISPA suggests the Australian government to follow the example of the European Commission which refrained from legislative revision of the copyright enforcement framework and proposed instead non-legislative actions[3] such as:

  1. launch and monitor a new generation of targeted communication campaigns, especially targeting young people, on the economic harm caused by commercial scale IP infringements;
  2. facilitate the development of voluntary solutions to  reduce  the profits  of commercial scale  IP  infringements  in  the online environment (so-called Follow the Money approach);
  3. assist SMEs to enforce their IP rights;
  4. develop training and cooperation between competent authorities;
  5. explore the impact of chargeback and related schemes to tackle commercial scale IP infringements;
  6. And analyse trends in IP and in IP-infringing activities.

[1] Hoorens et al, Measuring IPR infringements in the internal market, Rand Cooperation, 2012

[2] Conference hosted by the Australia’s Faculty of Law of the Queensland University of Technology on the future of copyright:

EuroDIG 2014 Berlin: EuroISPA launches discussion on a secure and non-fragmented cyberspace

13 June 2014 – The 7th European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) took place on 12 and 13 June in Berlin. Over 700 participants from 67 countries attended the event sponsored, amongst other organisations, by the European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA).

Along with other partners, EuroISPA suggested the Plenary 6 session moderated by Oliver Süme, EuroISPA President, to focus on “A secure and non-fragmented cyberspace: Rule of law in a cross-border environment”. The Panel held an intense debate on the Cybercrime Convention which has been into force for the past 10 years. The outcome of the discussions showed that the Convention provides a good basis to avoid conflicting legal frameworks for cybersecurity and the fragmentation of the Internet. It is therefore perceived as a starting point for a global multi-stakeholder dialogue to achieve global commitments on cybercrime. In addition, Internet governance could be seen as one of the keys to continue promoting the Convention on Cybercrime and encourage more governments to support and sign this important framework.

The future of the Internet discussed at NETMundial

On 23, 24 April 2014 the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance took place in São Paulo, Brazil. Following the US announcement to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community, the conference focused mainly on Net neutrality and mass surveillance. Ahead of the meeting EuroISPA contributed to the consultation launched by the organisers, and emphasized that the global structure of the Internet must be preserved.

EuroISPA has been represented at NETMundial by Oliver Süme President of EuroISPA and Malcolm Hutty, chair of the International Affairs committee.
„ We welcome NETMundial as a strong endorsement of the multistakeholder approach, which will drive forward the development of Internet governance. The infrastructure operated by the European ISPs is the enabler for business and our services are also key to consumers and their rights to privacy, freedom and expression. We therefore welcome the strong focus of the outcome document on human rights and will stay engaged in the global process of Internet Governance “  said Oliver Süme.

You can find EuroISPA’s reply to the public consultation ahead of NETMundial here.

Global Community discussion on the future of the Internet in Singapore

The last ICANN Conference took place in Singapore March 23 – 27. The meeting  drew together diverse international stakeholders from government, business, civil society, non-government organizations, research institutions and others to discuss the main topic on the agenda: the process of determining how to transfer stewardship of key internet technical functions from the United States Government’s to the international community.

Oliver Süme, President of EuroISPA gave a presentation on Internet Governance accountability. You can find the video of his speech below:

Policy Breakfast on The Future of Internet Governance at the European Parliament

On 19 March, eco, the Association of the German Internet Industry organised with the help of EuroISPA a policy Breakfast in the European Parliament. The event hosted by MEP Nadja Hirsch gathered around 40 participants, including members of Parliament and their staff, permanent representatives and company representatives to discuss “The Future of Internet Governance – who rules the Internet”.

Internet governance has evolved considerably in recent years. It became one of the most pressing issues that will determine the agenda of the International Policy Network in the years to come. Following the announcement of the U.S. government to give up the oversight of ICANN, the question to carry out an in-depth reform of the management of the Internet and develop new international supervisory structures has gained more and more importance. As next step, government representatives, industry and civil society will discuss a roadmap of a new Internet Governance system during the April NETMunidal meeting São Paulo “Global Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance”.

In his presentation, Oliver Süme, President of EuroISPA, clarified the concept of Internet Governance, its importance for the Internet economy and gave an overview of ICANN and IANA responsibilities. He explained the technical, administrative and organisational aspects of top-level domains and IP address assignment. Regarding the upcoming transition process, he stressed the need to assess the situation taking into account key underlining principles such as support for the multistakeholder model, maintain the security, stability and resilience of the Internet DNS, maintain the openness of the Internet.