Mandatory Piracy Filters Could be a Breach of Human Rights, Warn EU Members

By Tom Pritchard on at

Last year the EU published its proposal to modernise copyright laws, with one particular section calling for mandatory blocks designed to help combat piracy. Now, though, a number of the Union's member states have warned that the proposals might not be compatible with current EU law - particularly in that it might violate case law and human rights.

Article 13 of the copyright directive is the section in question, which requires online services to collaborate with rights holders in order to monitor and filter our pirated material. This means services with large amounts of user-submitted material have to use detection systems, similar to those used by YouTube, to block files that infringe copyright.

Now authorities in Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, and the Netherlands have asked that a number of things be clarified. In a letter sent to the European Commission last month (published by Statewatch), all six have questioned whether or not the new measures are actually compatible with existing EU laws, suggesting that such filtering might hinder people's right to freedom of expression and information, along with the right to protect their personal data and freedoms for conducting business.

One major problem here is that this sort of filtering would require services to monitor communications of people using the platform, which is against EU law. TorrentFreak notes that the Sabam v Netlog case saw the European Court of Justice rule that hosting sites cannot be force to filter copyrighted content, as it would violate user privacy and hinder freedom of information. Which, unless I'm missing something, is exactly what Article 13 proposes.

The letter itself is asking a lot of questions that have also been asked by activists and privacy advocates since the proposals were first published, which is a good thing.

Hopefully the more troublesome aspects of the proposal will end up being removed or amended when the proposals go before the EU Parliament, and strike a better balance between appeasing copyright holders and ensuring people are free to use the internet without fear of being spied on. [TorrentFreak]

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