67 industry associations reiterate concerns on ePrivacy in letter to negotiators

Brussels – 28 November 2018: Ahead of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council meeting of 4 December, 67 industry associations, including EuroISPA, reiterated their concerns about the proposal for an ePrivacy Regulation. Despite ongoing negotiations in the Council, the text remains far from addressing the many substantive issues that have been raised since the proposal was first put forward. The signatories therefore urge Member States to signal clearly that negotiations with the European Parliament should not be rushed on the basis of a flawed text, which would have profound repercussions for the European economy.

You can read the letter here

Copyright : EuroISPA co-signs industry letter addressed to EU negotiators 

Brussels, 20 November 2018: EuroISPA and several European and national trade associations sent a letter on the Copyright Directive reform to the EU Institutions.

The letter supports the exclusion of hyperlinks and snippets from the scope of the proposal, as well as limiting the scope to active platforms which give access to phonograms, broadcasts, films or musical works.

EuroISPA urges the European Commission, the Council, and the European Parliament to strive towards a balanced approach in the remaining trilogue negotiations.

Lunch Debate at the European Parliament: “Cross-Border Access to E-Evidence: Solutions for a European Approach”

Unity on the aim of the e-evidence dossier, but diverging stakeholder views on the proposed mechanism

On 27th September, MEP Dalton hosted a lunch debate, organised by EuroISPA, at the European Parliament on cross-border access to electronic evidence, bringing together representatives from the Institutions, civil society and industry. The Commission proposal foresees a new system for the pan-European exchange of data between Internet Service Providers and law enforcement authorities to enable them to effectively proceed with criminal investigations requiring information from the online sphere. The far-reaching proposal, to which EuroISPA has actively contributed in the past three years, touches upon a number of sensitive issues in respect to national sovereignty, rule of law and fundamental rights safeguards.

During the debate, representatives from the EU Institutions, and EuroISPA, presented their views on the file and engaged in discussion with attendees. Deputy Head of the Cybercrime Unit in DG HOME, Cathrin Bauer-Bulst, stated “We need to equip law enforcement authorities with 21st century methods to tackle crime, just as criminals use 21st century methods to commit crime. To meet this aim, the Commission has proposed new tools which would enable competent authorities to gather e-evidence quickly and efficiently across borders, while ensuring robust safeguards for the rights and freedoms of all affected.” Judith Hester, of the Austrian Presidency, highlighted that “In the digital age, a legal basis for direct cooperation with service providers is essential for the protection of the area of freedom, security and justice. Council is intensively discussing aspects concerning fundamental issues, such as the appropriate level and timing of involvement of another Member State. We are focussing on effective legal remedies and the right to information, secure channels of data transmission in addition to cost reimbursement.”

Vice-President of EuroISPA, Maximilian Schubert, underscored ISPs’ understanding of judicial authorities’ need for efficient data exchange. However, any new system requires a sound legal basis, taking into account existing fundamental rights safeguards. “An SME exemption with more flexibility in time frames for executing orders received by the ISP is essential. Authentication, integrity and security are paramount. This is vital to maintaining consumer trust, thereby enabling Europeans to optimally profit from ongoing digitalisation”, said the EuroISPA Vice-president.

The discussion following the presentations was centred upon the issues of cost reimbursement, the general question of the necessity of the proposed measures, as well as instances of the real-life significance of the principle of dual criminality, demonstrated by examples from recent international cases.

EuroISPA would like to extend its thanks to the speakers for their remarks and for a thought-provoking discussion. EuroISPA looks forward to continue engaging on this important file towards a mechanism that works for all players in the Internet ecosystem.

EuroISPA regrets Plenary vote on Copyright

Strasbourg, 12 September 2018 – EuroISPA regrets the outcome of today’s vote of the European Parliament in favour of the Copyright Directive reform. A majority of MEPs have decided to impose upload filters on platforms, and to create an ancillary copyright which might ultimately restrict Europeans’ ability to freely share information online.

They have ignored pleas and warnings coming from hundreds of academics, founders of the Internet, one million of concerned citizens, trade associations, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

The proposal will be now discussed by the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council in the so-called trilogue negotiations. EuroISPA calls on the negotiators to strive towards a balanced approach in the upcoming months.

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.

Copyright Vote – EuroISPA’s recommendations

Brussels, 11 September 2018 – Tomorrow, the European Parliament will vote on the Copyright Directive reform. MEPs will choose whether to support an open and free Internet or to endorse upload filters, endangering Europeans’ ability to freely share information online.

Article 13 – protecting freedom of speech and creativity

Several amendments would render platforms directly liable for the infringements made by their users. They would be forced to install upload filters and to determine the legality of allegedly illegal content. This would result in over-blocking and the censorship of legal content, thus having a chilling effect on European users’ fundamental freedoms.

Instead, EuroISPA supports the amendments formulated by the IMCO Committee, which would oblige active platforms to conclude licenses with rightsholders, without implementing upload filters. In this way, the Internet will stay open and creators will be fairly remunerated.

Article 11 – a presumption of transfer of rights

The creation of an ancillary copyright would negatively impact the development of innovative business models necessary to advance the publishing industry. Moreover, its application to snippets would constitute a dire danger to the free Internet.

Rather, EuroISPA supports compromises formulating a “presumption of transfer of rights” to news publishers, which would empower them to address copyright infringements on behalf of their authors and to conclude new licensing agreements.

As the representative of the Internet infrastructure, EuroISPA urges MEPs to support rules fostering an open Internet, respecting users’ fundamental rights and promoting creativity. 

Copyright Directive: European Parliament listens to civil society and industry and rejects JURI report

Brussels, 5 July 2018 – Today, the European Parliament rejected the Legal Affairs’ Committee (JURI) draft report on the Copyright Directive reform, deeming it premature to enter into negotiations with the Council. EuroISPA welcomes this decision, as the current text would hurt the European Internet ecosystem and its users. We call on the European Parliament to improve the text ahead of the next Plenary session in September, by adopting a more proportionate and targeted approach.

Innocenzo Genna, Chair of EuroISPA’s Innovation and Growth Committee, stated: “Today, MEPs rightly rejected the introduction of additional press publishers’ rights and upload filters. In so doing, they listened to the concerns of hundreds of academics, internet pioneers, civil rights groups and the online sector”.

EuroISPA has consistently argued that Article 11 on press publishers’ rights would present a danger for the free and open internet and would hinder innovation, adding another layer of licensing complexity. Article 13 would mandate platforms to install incredibly expensive upload filters. This would lead to over-blocking and censorship of lawful content, thus endangering European users’ fundamental freedoms.

Therefore, we call on MEPs to amend the draft report ahead of the next Plenary session in September, to formulate copyright rules which are proportionate and targeted, to support the development of the European Internet industry and respect users’ fundamental freedoms.

E-Evidence: EuroISPA adopts Position Paper

Brussels, 3 July 2018-  EuroISPA is the voice of the European Internet industry, representing over 2500 Internet Services Providers from across Europe and all along the Internet value chain.EuroISPA’s members have long worked with judicial authorities in their countries of operation, and thus have valuable insights on the functioning of existing cooperation. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of EuroISPA’s members are SMEs, and as such, face novel challenges from any new legal regime. EuroISPA has long been engaged on the e-evidence file, having been very active in the proposal’s preparatory stages.

EuroISPA has been a longstanding interlocuter in policy discussions on how to improve cooperation procedures, using its representative role at, for example, Europol’s EC3 communications providers advisory group, the European Commission DG JUST/DG HOME taskforce on e-evidence, and the former European Commission expert group on data retention, to advance such discussions.

EuroISPA and its members feel compelled to stress the negative consequences that will arise from any framework that privatises law enforcement and does not provide clear safeguards for ISPs. Furthermore, EuroISPA emphasises the need for SME exemptions to offset the considerable administrative, legal and financial burden incurred by the cooperation set out by the e-evidence proposal.

The position paper in full can be read here: 1806_EuroISPA_e-evidence_position_paper

Copyright Directive: EuroISPA urges MEPs to reject JURI Committee’s negotiation mandate  

Brussels, 20 June 2018 – Today, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) adopted its report on the Copyright Directive reform. EuroISPA is deeply concerned by the adoption of Articles 11, on press publishers’ rights, and 13, on upload filters, which would hurt the European internet economy and European users alike. Therefore, we call on the European Parliament to reject the JURI Committee’s mandate to enter into trilogue negotiations with the Council during the next Plenary session, to further work towards a proportionate and targeted approach.

Innocenzo Genna, Chair of EuroISPA’s Innovation and Growth Committee, commented: “We regret today’s Committee vote. Article 13, in its current form, would damage the competitiveness of the vast majority of the Internet ecosystem, mostly comprised of small and medium size providers”. Article 13 would require Internet platforms to install unaffordable upload filters to assess the legality of copyright-protected content. This will lead to over-blocking and censorship of lawful content, thus endangering European users’ fundamental freedoms.

EuroISPA also regrets that the majority of the Legal Affairs Committee did not take into account the plea of hundreds of NGOs, academics, businesses, and internet pioneers such as Tim Berners-Lee. These MEPs also ignored tens of thousands of messages sent over the past two weeks by EU citizens via email and social media.

Therefore, we call on the European Parliament to contest the Legal Affairs’ Committee’s decision to enter into trilogue negotiations during the next Plenary session, which will take place at the beginning of July. We urge all MEPs to support Copyright rules which are proportionate and targeted, to support the development of the European Internet industry and respect users’ fundamental freedoms.

EuroISPA supports #SaveYourInternet Action Day

Brussels, 12 June 2018 – On 20-21 June, the European Parliament will vote on the Copyright Directive, which currently features provisions mandating online platforms to install upload filters.

Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive reform risks hurting the European Internet industry and its users. To avoid costly fines, online platforms will tend to over-block lawful content, therefore endangering European users’ fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, installing such filters will constitute a severe burden for small and medium size providers, which constitute the majority of EuroISPA’s membership.

This is why EuroISPA supports the #SaveYourInternet campaign: digital rights organisations, businesses, and users alike are mobilising to call on MEPs to vote against Article 13 and the potentially highly detrimental impact this provision would have on the internet.

To support the campaign and contact directly your MEP, through Twitter or by email, please go to saveyourinternet.eu