In January, we highlighted how new efforts to combat counterfeit goods could mean a huge degree of monitoring of internet connections.
Under the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) we warned that the implications of the law would force ISPs to police everything that their customers did online or be held liable for any illegal activity conducted over their connections.
Now in a detailed report, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said that elements of the ACTA are incompatible with EU Law. Giovanni Buttarelli, assistant EDPS, warned:
“Measures that entail the indiscriminate or widespread monitoring of internet user’ behaviour, and/or electronic communications, in relation to trivial, small-scale not for profit infringement would be disproportionate and in breach of [individuals' right to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights], [individuals' right to privacy and the protection of their personal data under] the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the Data Protection Directive,” he said.
“However, the generalised monitoring followed by the storage of data on a general scale for the purpose of enforcing claims, such as the scanning of the Internet as such, or all the activity in P2P networks, would go beyond what is legitimate.
“Such general monitoring is especially intrusive to individuals’ rights and freedoms when it is not well defined and there is no limitation to it, in scope, in time, and in terms of persons concerned,” Buttarelli said.
Big Brother Watch has always argued that the key to tackling copyright infringement is no different to other investigations – a proper judicial process should be followed based on evidence and not indiscriminate surveillance of anyone using the internet.
After the MEP leading the European Parliament’s work on ACTA resigned calling the process a ‘secretive, un-democratic masqueade‘ this is a further step to ensuring an intrusive, disproportionate and deeply flawed piece of legislation is rightly dropped.