European Court says no ISP needs to filter internet

Plans by various governments to turn Internet Service Providers into unpaid copyright cops working on behalf of Big Content have been given a thumbs down by the European Court of Justice.

While the Advocate General’s ruling is not final yet, it should make entertainment industry bosses wake up in a cold sweat screaming “Rosebud”.

The Advocate General, Cruz Villalón, says that no ISP can be required to filter the Internet, and particularly not to enforce the copyright.

He said that the installation of that filtering and blocking system is a restriction on the right to respect for the privacy of communications – and the right to protection of personal data, both of which are rights protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Not only that,  but the the deployment of such a system would restrict freedom of information, which is also protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In other words it is illegal under European Law.

All those ISPs who are currently filtering out The Pirate Bay and AllOfMP3 are actually breaking the law, rather than enforcing it.  So FastWeb, it is time to do the decent thing.

France’s three strikes law, Spain’s proposed court action against pirates, and the UK’s forthcoming laws are all a breach of European Rights laws.

There are ways around the ruling. Laws can be written requiring an ISP filter or block parts of the internet, but they have to conform to very strict rules that are applied to laws limiting fundamental rights, such as those preventing terrorism. But ISPs can’t choose to limit what they present as “The Internet”.

Rick Falkvinge, from the Pirate Party, said that the ruling gives ISPs the power to say “go play on the highway, parasites, we have a paper from the highest possible court saying no court can force us to do that. We care more about our customers than about obsolete irrelevance”.