MEPs support surfer's rights

European flag flying; Budapest Parliament
Creative Commons License photo: soylentgreen23

Congratulations to Members of the European Parliament for backing an amendment which respects and strengthens the rights of internet users:

The agreement therefore builds citizens’ rights under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms into EU telecoms legislation. Binding provisions state that any actions taken by Member States which have an impact on users’ access to, or use of, electronic communications services and applications must respect their fundamental rights and freedoms, especially their right to privacy, freedom of expression and access to information and their right to a judgment by an independent and impartial tribunal.

This amendment contradicts a draft French law which can ban people from the internet for downloading pirated material.

As much as I dislike piracy, I feel the French law is very dangerous and is a very disproportionate response to the problem of piracy. With so many services moving online (banking, government, communications & email, university applications and enrolment, e-learning, access to news and information), I’d argue that internet access is beginning to enter the realm where it should be considered a fundamental right of every person. A ban from the internet would fundamentally affect citizen’s ability to participate in their society. So whilst the state should be able to reserve the ability to take away that right when it is in the public interest (e.g. preventing crime, terrorism), it is very hard to argue that someone should lose their ability to participate in society for downloading pirated materials.

Let’s hope that this is accepted by EU telecoms ministers and passed into law.

It’d be interesting to see whether any countries presently have any charters for fundamental citizens rights with regards to the internet… anybody know?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *