5 Nov 2009

Greens and Pirate Party protect internet users


Green leader and MEP Caroline Lucas attacks Lord Mandelson’s “draconian” plans to disconnect filesharers The European Parliament and the EU Council (representing national governments) last night agreed on a compromise text regarding the protection of internet users' rights in cases of alleged copyright infringement via online file-sharing. Green MEPs have been working closely with a member of the Pirate Party, who also sits with the Greens/EFA Group in Parliament, to fight attempts to introduce a ‘three strike’ rule for people who illegally download material.

The proposals, which Greens believe are “excessive”, could see users’ internet connections being permanently disabled if they are found to be downloading content illegally up to three times. Lord Mandelson has been at the forefront of pushing this agenda in the UK and is one of those challenging due process and freedom of expression rights on the internet.

Greens/EFA MEP and UK Green Party leader Caroline Lucas commented: "Last night’s agreement was a victory for the Greens/EFA Group and for the thousands of citizens who have been campaigning to defend the rights of internet users through blogging and correspondence with their elected representatives.

“The message from this EU legislation is clear: access to the internet is a fundamental right and proper procedures must be followed when challenging internet users on alleged copyright infringement. It is now up to national governments to respect this.

“Lord Mandelson’s draconian anti-piracy measures, which mirror the French ‘Hadopi’ internet piracy bill, are excessive – especially given the complex dynamics behind filesharing. The European Parliament must continue to stand up to the Council's blatant attempts to erode citizens' rights and deprive people of an essential service. “I am satisfied that we achieved the best possible legal protection we could achieve at this stage. Once the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, the Parliament will have co-legislative powers to defend net neutrality. Sadly, this is not the end of the line when it comes to defending the rights of internet users.”

Greens/EFA MEP Christian Engström (Pirate Party, Sweden), commented: “I particularly welcome the insistence on a ‘prior fair and impartial procedure’, which puts up a strong line of defence against the ‘three strike’ Hadopi law in France and similar measures being pushed by Lord Mandelson in the UK. “While I welcome that the European Parliament stood firm on cutting an internet connection only under strict rules, I must stress that it is wrong for governments to cut people off from the internet at all."

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