EU accidentally orders ISPs to become copyright police
Legislator: 'No we never'
Part of the EU Telecommunications Package, agreed by MEPs on Monday, could be interpreted to endorse cutting off P2P users after a written warning or two, even though the author claims that was not the intention.
The disputed text, which some are claiming is deliberately concealed within impenetrable legalese, states that national regulators - such as the UK's Ofcom - must promote "cooperation" between access providers and those "interested in the protection and promotion of lawful content".
This would seem to be beyond the provision of basic information, and could be interpreted to mean regulators have a responsibility to turn ISPs into law enforcement bodies policing the internet for copyright holders.
Arguments about the technical feasibility of such an action are irrelevant. It's not the law-maker's job to know how a law can be enforced, it would be up to the ISPs and copyright holders to work out who to accuse and what action to take, and up to the courts to decide if action was taken inappropriately.
More fundamentally, the question is if ISPs should take responsibility for the traffic they carry.
But one of the MEPs responsible for the text, Malcolm Harbour, was quick to explain that this is not the intended meaning at all:
"The interpretation ... is alarmist and scare-mongering and deflects from the intention which was to improve consumers' rights," he told the BBC. Harbour also found time to debate the text on Radio 5 (mp3 - first item), where he reiterated that the legislation has more innocent intentions, and promised to amend the text before the final vote in September if enough people found it misleading. ®
"The interpretation ... is alarmist and scare-mongering and deflects from the intention which was to improve consumers' rights."
The thing is, laws are laws. It doesn't matter what your intentions are. What matters is people's interpretation of the law. Here's a suggestion -- craft the law using clear and unambiguous language so that nobody has to guess your intent, and so that there is no way to misinterpret it. Don't forget, even if everyone agrees and holds to your intention now, it doesn't mean future civil servants will.
I bet the US' founding fathers never intended for the US to turn out this way.
I have a hunch the people who crafted child-porn laws never intended for under-18 girls to be arrested for voluntarily (and without coercion) posting semi/nude pictures of themselves on the Internet or sending those pictures to their boy/girlfriend.
I bet the UK lawmakers who crafted the sex-offender rules never intended for a man simulating sex with a bicycle in his locked hotel room to be arrested and have his name on the sex offender list for the rest of his life.
@there will be a scapegoat
``all that we need now is SSL to torrent websites and keep encryption on during downloads....''
FFS, how many times do people have to be told? Encrypting your bittorrent connection only hides the data from people who are watching your network traffic. As long as peers can connect to the tracker and see your IP address (which they need in order to share the files with you), snoopers from the copyright enforcement bodies can connect to the tracker and see that your IP address is downloading infringing material.
those "interested in the protection and promotion of lawful content"
The Chinese Government : Falun Gong and Tibetan Buddhist sites
The U.S. Government: Bookmaking sites
SCO : Anything like Unix
The German Government : Anything Nazi
The Iranian Government: Anything Anti-Nazi
and almost any political opinion is unlawful somewhere.