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October 20 2013

October 17 2013

The European Parliament Must Protect Our Right to Privacy

Paris, 17 October 2013 — Few days before the vote of the “Civil Liberties” committee (LIBE) on the future European Regulation on the protection of our personal data, a coalition of European organisations release the following joint press release by 19 non-governmental organizations reaffirming the pressing need for a strong protection of the citizens' fundamental right to privacy.

Civil rights groups call on European Parliament to vote for strong data protection rules

On Monday 21 October, the European Parliament will decide on the future of privacy and data protection in Europe. The recent revelations surrounding government surveillance involving some of the Internet's biggest companies have highlighted the urgency of an update of Europe's privacy rules.

The Regulation will have a major impact on the digital environment for citizens, businesses and public bodies. “The choice is between clear, harmonised, predictable and enforceable rules that will benefit European citizens and businesses or unclear, unpredictable rules that will benefit nobody except data monopolies and lawyers,” said Joe McNamee, EDRi's Executive Director.

Civil society groups are concerned that any weakening of the European data protection rules and principles will undermine the rights and freedoms of European citizens. The past months have shown how important it is to limit the collection of data to the minimum necessary, to ensure privacy by design and to safeguard the right of individuals to delete their data from online services. The European Parliament now has the responsibility to ensure that Europe gets strong data protection rules for a competitive and harmonised market.

The Regulation will only be as strong as its weakest link, so it is critical that no loopholes are created that would undermine our democratic rights.

Joint press release by:

Access

Raegan MacDonald +32 486 301 096
raegan@accessnow.org

Alternative Informatics Association - Turkey

Özgür Uckan + 90 1 216 418 0 417
bilgi@alternatifbilisim.org

Article 19

Thomas Hughes, Executive Director +44 (0) 20 7324 2510
communications@article19.org

Bits of Freedom

Tim Toornvliet : +31 6 18606472
tim.toornvliet@bof.nl

Chaos Computer Club

Christian Horchert +49 151 46429622
fukami@ccc.de

Digitalcourage e.V.

Dennis Romberg
+49521 1639 1639
presse@digitalcourage.de

Digitale Gesellschaft

Markus Beckedahl +49 177 207503541
presse@digitalegesellschaft.de

Electronic Frontier Finland

Ville Oksanen +358 40 5368583
effi@effi.org

European Digital Rights

Joe McNamee +32 2 2742570
press@edri.org

Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR)

Ross Anderson +441223 334733
Ross.Anderson@cl.cam.ac.uk

Föreningen för Digitala Fri- och Rättigheter (DFRI)

Andreas Jonsson +46 733755980
andreas@dfri.se

Initiative für Netzfreiheit

Josef Irnberger josef.irnberger@netzfreiheit.org
+43 (0) 699 10 47 88 31

La Quadrature du Net

Jérémie Zimmermann +33 615 940 675
jz@laquadrature.net

Liga voor Mensenrechten vzw

Caroline de Geest +329 223 07 38
Caroline@mensenrechten.be

Open Rights Group

Jim Killock +44 784498127
jim.killock@openrightsgroup.org

Panoptykon Foundation

Katarzyna Szymielewicz +48 692 404 096
katarzyna.szymielewicz@panoptykon.org

Privacy International

Anna Fielder +44 20 7242 2836
anna@privacy.org

VIBE - Verein für Internet-Benutzer Österreichs

Andreas Krisch +43 1 480502511
andreas.krisch@vibe.at

Vrijschrift

Walter van Holst
walter.van.holst@xs4all.nl

October 14 2013

Will EU Parliament Sacrifice our Privacy for Electoral Reasons?

Paris, 14 October 2013 – A crucial vote for EU Citizens fundamental right to privacy will take place on October 21st, in the “Civil Liberties” committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament. The future of the EU Regulation on the protection of individuals to the processing of their personal data will be decided by a vote on “compromise amendments”1. The rapporteur seems willing to request a mandate to enter closed-doors negotiations to severely cut short any chance of public debate. La Quadrature du Net calls on all citizens to contact the members of the LIBE committee to urge them to refuse this obscure hijacking of the democratic debate.


Call your MEPs now!

The rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht (Germany - Greens/EFA) may be about to request from the members of “Civil Liberties” committee (LIBE) a mandate for interinstitutional negotiations (trilogue). This mandate is de facto an official permission for the European Parliament to enter closed-doors negotiations with the European Commission and Member States, shortening the debate over the Regulation to only one reading2. This is especially alarming in the context of recent revelations by Edward Snowden, showing how much citizens' personal data and communications are being endangered by practices of states and corporations alike.

In pre-electoral context3, the main objective of the negotiating team4 in this manoeuvre seems to be able to boast about this Regulation being the best achievement ever reached in the field of data protection, even if that is yet far from the case and could even get worse5.

As things stand, allowing rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht to carry forward negotiations to compromise on a final text comes down to allowing the European Parliament and Member States to rewrite the Regulation without any actual public scrutiny (especially as the first four committees that have given their opinion on the text did so before Snowden's revelations). In doing so, Members of the European Parliament would avoid the heat of having this huge and controversial dossier still open during the electoral campaign and elections of 2014, but at the unacceptable price of completely shutting down the necessary public debate, therefore the general interest and defense of European citizens.

By refusing to grant such a mandate for closed-door negotiations, Members of the European Parliament would retain an opportunity to amend the text before the 1st reading vote in Plenary, and to make the text even better in 2nd reading. Betting now that compromise amendments will be acceptable, would ignore the very high risk that a last minute event turns the Regulation into exactly what giant corporations want: an open-bar to collect all of EU citizens data, without any constraint.

“Such an attempt to sacrifice a transparent debate to make the Regulation more effective at protecting our privacy for electoral purposes is a dishonor to democracy! Citizens need effective legal tools to regain control over their personal data in the face of the predatory behaviors of giant companies whose business models are based on collecting everyone's data, favouring the rise of global surveillance. Such legal empowerment cannot be achieved without a proper public debate.” concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

Citizens must contact members of the LIBE committee, and especially the rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht to urge them to refuse a 1st reading agreement with the Council and guarantee a proper public debate that will go to the full-length of what the EU procedure allows. As a citizen platform, La Quadrature du Net provides the PiPhone, a web tool allowing to call MEPs free of charge:

Act now!

  • 1. "Compromise amendments" stand for a package of amendments negotiated between political groups, before the official vote of the draft report in the committee responsible. The aim is to cover and replace the amendments tabled at the given stage of the procedure, in order to compromise on a common text geared to resolve the existing conflicts. If the negotiating team reaches an agreement, MEPs – sitting in the responsible committee – vote only on the compromise amendments, avoiding a long review of those amendments originally tabled. However if variances between political groups cannot be completely smoothened, MEPs can decide, at eleventh hours, not to vote on compromise amendments, but on the original ones.
  • 2. The rapporteur will ask the members of the LIBE committee – on the basis of Rule 70 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament – for a mandate to enter in interinstitutional negotiations, taking the form of tripartite closed-doors meetings between the European Commission, the Council (ministers from the Member States) and the European Parliament, generally geared to adopt the act at an early stage of the procedure.
  • 3. Next elections will take place in May 2014
  • 4. Jan Philipp ALBRECHT (Greens/EFA), Sarah LUDFORD (ALDE), Axel VOSS (EPP), Dimitrios DROUTSAS (S&D), Alexander ALVARO (ALDE), Timothy KIRKHOPE (ECR), Cornelia ERNST (GUE/NGL)
  • 5. At this point, European citizens do not have any assurance with regards to the Parliament's position on data protection. The tremendous lobbying efforts by Internet giants and the resulting 4000 amendments – a record for the Parliament! – tabled so far, make the global understanding of what the future text could look like and its potential consequences highly blurry and tangled.

October 09 2013

Snowden Should Get the Sakharov Prize

Open letter by 23 European organisations in support of Snowden's nomination for the Sakharov prize

Today, 23 European non-governmental organisations released an open letter to the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament in support of Edward Snowden's nomination for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2013:

Dear Presidents,

We write to you on behalf of 23 European non-governmental organisations protecting fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and information, to lend our support to the selection of Edward Snowden for the Sakharov Prize.

Edward Snowden’s recent disclosures have triggered a necessary and long-overdue public debate in the United States and beyond about the acceptable boundaries of surveillance in a democratic state and about the legitimacy and proportionality of counter-terrorism intelligence activities. The revelations also have prompted debates in the European Union.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was established to recognise individuals actively working to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to freedom of expression. We believe that by his personal example, Snowden meets these criteria. His nomination to the Prize is in itself a contribution to the development of democracy and the rule of law in the European Union, in particular with regards to the protection of whistleblowers. It also sends a message of respect for international law. Awarding the Prize to Snowden would give a clear signal to the world that the EU values and protects those who are attacked for speaking out on violations of human rights. Daniel Ellsberg and earlier NSA whistleblowers have praised Snowden's actions. We are convinced that Andrei Sakharov would have done the same.

Sakharov – a nuclear physicist turned opponent of a repressive state – used his position in national security and defence to raise concerns about the preservation of human rights. Similarly, Snowden used his professional knowledge to draw attention to abuses of the fundamental rights of individuals and their effect on entire societies. In their transition from state servants to citizens' rights advocates, both men became dissidents, in the full knowledge of the likely cost of this action to them. It is the moral duty of the European Union to acknowledge a man who bravely stood up for our basic human rights, anticipating the cost that his action would have for his personal liberty. We are fully aware that all shortlisted candidates fully deserve their nomination and we understand that the choice is difficult. However, not all candidates are in the same position. Other nominees have already been provided with many other awards and are less controversial, as their activism is directed against totalitarian regimes.

When deciding the winner of the Sakharov Prize, please remember that Snowden has shown to the world that blanket and unaccountable surveillance is not limited to dictatorships, but that democracies can also undermine citizens' fundamental freedoms. Please also keep in mind that one of the few things the European Union can do right now is to support Edward Snowden.

Snowden’s actions represent a challenge to unfettered state power at the global level, and without regard to conventional and simple nationalist dynamics. An award would point the way towards safeguarding activism without borders in a networked world. So far Edward Snowden has received neither recognition for his courageous deeds nor support from the European Union collectively, from any individual Member State or from any single European institution.

As European citizens we believe that the Sakharov Prize would be the best way to change this undesirable state of affairs. Therefore we strongly encourage you to award the Sakharov Prize to Edward Snowden in honour of his courage and commitment to values that the Prize represents.

Sincerely yours

  • Alternative Informatics Association (Turkey)
  • ApTI (Romania)
  • Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung (Germany)
  • ARTICLE 19 (International)
  • Bits of Freedom (The Netherlands)
  • Chaos Computer Club e.V. (Germany)
  • DFRI (Sweden)
  • Digitalcourage (Germany)
  • Digitale Gesellschaft (Germany)
  • Electronic Frontier Finland
  • European Digital Rights (EDRi) (Europe)
  • Foundation for Information Policy Research (UK)
  • Initiative für Netzfreiheit (Austria)
  • Internet Society (Poland Chapter)
  • IT-Political Association of Denmark
  • Iuridicum Remedium (Czech Republic)
  • La Quadrature du Net (France)
  • Modern Poland Foundation (Poland)
  • Net Users' Rights Protection Association (NURPA) (Belgium)
  • Open Rights Group (UK)
  • Panoptykon Foundation (Poland)
  • Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)
  • Vrijschrift (The Netherlands)
Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

September 11 2013

Kroes' Unacceptable Anti-Net Neutrality Law Rushed Despite Criticisms

Paris, 11 September 2013 – Amid strong criticisms both inside and outside the European Commission, Neelie Kroes decided to rush the adoption of her draft telecom legislation, which includes very controversial anti-Net neutrality proposals. Commissioner Kroes, who spent the whole legislature denying the very need for legislative action on the topic, is now rushing a flawed lobby-driven text, in complete disrespect of European citizens. The ball is now in the hands of the European Parliament, just months ahead of upcoming elections.


Computer generated re-enactment
of Neelie Kroes preparing her
draft legislation

As with the working versions leaked in the past weeks, and despite vivid criticisms both outside and inside the Commission1, the regulation adopted today by the European Commission2 contains dangerous fake Net neutrality proposals. This flawed text pretends to defend the principle of Net neutrality by banning blocking and throttling of Internet communications3 but makes it completely meaningless by explicitly allowing undue commercial discrimination through prioritization4.

A few months before the end of her mandate and after years of promises and consultations on Net neutrality, Neelie Kroes is giving in to the long-lasting demand of operators, in a major instance of corporate policy capture5, burying at the same time the proposals of civil society and the protection of the public interest.

This dangerous legislative text will be officially presented tomorrow by the EU Commission. More than ever, citizens need to make their voices heard and ensure that their elected representatives in the European Parliament oppose Neelie Kroes' model. Instead, the Parliament must enact strong protections for the free and open Internet.

“Neelie Kroes is consciously betraying EU citizens by giving in to the powerful telecom lobbies. Mrs Kroes' draft is flawed by design to allow commercial breaches of Net neutrality, through forms of discrimination which undermine our freedom of communication and are anti-competitive by nature. Rushing such measures, a few months before upcoming elections, is outrageous and shows the profoundly disturbing disconnection between the Commission and citizens. The Parliament must replace this section of the text by provisions guaranteeing the enforcement of a true and unconditional Net neutrality in order to defend the public interest.” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. A leaked criticism of a draft by Viviane Redding's services says for example “such limited possibilities of accessing Internet content and services of their choice would run counter to the stated objectives of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”: http://www.edri.org/NN-negativeopinions
  • 2. La Quadrature du Net accessed a draft dated 10-09-2013 under embargo
  • 3. Item "Rights of end-users" of the text:
    "To guarantee an appropriate level of consumer protection across the EU, rules defining the rights of end-users are harmonised, including:
    - the obligation on providers to provide unhindered connection to all content, applications or services being accessed by end-users – also referred to as Net Neutrality - while regulating the use of traffic management measures by operators in respect of general internet access. At the same time, the legal framework for specialised services with enhanced quality is clarified."
  • 4. "23.2 End-users shall also be free to agree with either providers of electronic communications to the public or with providers of content, applications and services on the provision of specialised services with an enhanced quality of service."
    Prioritization is another word for the more technical term of "guaranteed" or "differentiated" "Quality of Service", as opposed to the traditional "best-effort" model for the delivery of Internet traffic and means that all that is not prioritized is in practice de-prioritized
  • 5. See our analysis on the ETICS consortium and its ties to Kroes' proposal: https://www.laquadrature.net/en/neelie-kroes-pushing-telcos-agenda-to-end-net-neutrality

September 09 2013

European Parliament Must Vote (Again) Against Censorship

Paris, 9 September 2013 – During a plenary vote scheduled for 10 September 2013, the European Parliament will vote on a report of Ashley Fox (ECR - UK) on “Online gambling in the internal market”. On behalf of such laudable goals as child protection, fight against money laundering and addiction to gambling, the report calls for the setting up of dangerous online censorship. Thus, La Quadrature du Net warns the Members of the European Parliament and urges citizens to contact their representatives to ask them to remain opposed to these anti-democratic measures during the vote of tomorrow (by supporting the split vote on §19 - 1st part).

Adopted at the end of May 2013 in “Consumer protection” committee with 32 votes in favor and 3 against, the report of Ashley Fox (ECR - UK) on “Online gambling in the internal market” “recommends the exchange of best practices between Member States on enforcement measures – such as on establishing white and black lists of, and preventing access to, illegal gambling websites”1. The ineffectiveness and dangers of such measures have been well proven: many studies have highlighted the risk of content censorship, the high cost, and the ease to circumvent it for individuals benefiting from these illegal activities.

La Quadrature du Net reminds that the only effective way against these illegal activities is the removal of content directly at the source, on the servers, and taking to court the individuals who publish it. In the best case, the implementation of the censorship measures proposed in this report would be expensive and inefficient, and in the worst case, they would have a serious impact on the freedom of communication of citizens.

Nevertheless, the measures proposed by Ashley Fox seem to find support among some EPP and S&D MEPs. Both of these political groups appear unable to define a coherent position on this issue, thus, the outcome of the vote is difficult to predict, and a modest number of voices could change it. MEPs must reject this attempt to impose censorship online.

“As often with online content, some of our representatives think they can solve problems by hidding it and by imposing censorship. Unfortunately, this solution is pure display as it doesn't solve anything but is most likely to affect the freedom of communication for all citizens. Because it can only undermine the fundamental values of our democracy, censorship cannot solve any problem, legitimate or not, and should be banned and repealed where it already exists.” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. Item 19 of the report:
    ”19. Recommends the introduction of uniform, pan-European common security standards for electronic identification and cross border e-verification services; welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a directive on e-identification and authentication, which will allow for interoperability of national e-identification schemes where these exist; calls, therefore, for registration and identification procedures to be streamlined and made more efficient, notably in order to ensure efficient identification mechanisms and to prevent multiple accounts per player and access by minors to online gambling websites; recommends the exchange of best practices between Member States on enforcement measures – such as on establishing white and black lists of, and preventing access to, illegal gambling websites, jointly defining secure and traceable payment solutions, and considering the feasibility of blocking financial transactions – in order to protect consumers against illegal operators;”

September 03 2013

Press Release: Internet Activists Demand Release of Bahraini Blogger Mohammed Hassan

INTERNET ACTIVISTS DEMAND RELEASE OF BAHRAINI BLOGGER MOHAMMED HASSAN

Global Voices Advocacy and bloggers around the world are calling for the release of Mohammed Hassan (Safybh), a young Bahraini blogger and human rights advocate who has been held in detention in Bahrain since July.

Hassan was arrested and taken from his home in Sitra, Bahrain on the morning of July 31. Security agents seized Hassan's computer and other electronics. He was held at the Criminal Investigation Directorate in Manama until August 4, when he was reportedly transferred to Dry Dock Detention Center in the town of Hidd.

His lawyer, Abdulaziz Moosa, was arrested on August 7, allegedly for stating that Hassan had been exposed to torture while in prison.

Hassan reportedly has been charged with being a member of the 14 February Media Network, calling for and participating in public demonstrations, inciting hatred against the government and being in contact with exiled members of the the Bahraini opposition. Multiple sources have reported that he has been beaten while in prison, and forced to confess to charges against him.

Global Voices Advocacy, an international citizen media advocacy network, is calling for Hassan's release. Bahraini activist and Global Voices author Ali Abdulemam, who recently fled Bahrain after enduring years of persecution by authorities, has been active in pressing for Hassan's release. Currently living with political asylum in the UK, Abdulemam has urged international NGOs and foreign governments to intervene on Hassan's behalf:

We are asking for the release of Mohamed Hassan and all bloggers and activists who have been imprisoned because of their efforts to protect human rights and make our society more open. We should not have to sacrifice our rights to free expression and assembly for the safety and security of the state.

Authorities have harassed and detained Hassan several times since early 2012. He was previously summoned for interrogation in June 2012 in connection with his writing and involvement in supporting reforms in the country.

Hassan has long promoted democratic values, protections for human rights, and peace in Bahrain. In 2011, he played an active role in the first Bahraini dialogue, held in Manama. A blogger and author for Global Voices Online, Hassan often covered human rights and politics in Bahrain on his blog, Safybh. Hassan stopped blogging on April 29, 2013.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights both enshrine the right to freedom of expression. As party to both documents, the Kingdom of Bahrain has agreed to protect its citizens rights to speak freely. United Nations representatives have on multiple occasions stressed that these rights must be applied in traditional media as well as online.

We urge the government of Bahrain to release Hassan and call on international NGOs, foreign governments, and other powerful entities to join us in advocating for Hassan's freedom.

For more information or interviews, contact Hisham Almiraat (Director, Global Voices Advocacy) or Ellery Biddle (Editor, Global Voices Advocacy) at advocacy [at] globalvoicesonline [dot] org

 

SUPPORT SAFY

We urge readers to share this story widely. Use hashtag #FreeSafy and tweet links to this press release or recent reports by Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Use the campaign image below to highlight his case. We thank everyone for their support!

Illustration by Jafar al-Alawy

Illustration by Jafar al-Alawy

July 12 2013

Net Neutrality: Will Kroes Fool Citizens (And Give In to Telcos)?

Paris, July 12th 2013 -- A leaked draft legislative text shows that the European Commission might be about to kill the open and free Internet. Under the guise of protecting Net neutrality, the Commission wants to give telecom operators a free hand to develop business models that would irremediably undermine freedom of communication on the Internet. For years now, commissioner Neelie Kroes has been bafflingly sympathetic to big telecom companies on the fundamental issue of Net neutrality, but with this draft text she would be going much too far in betraying citizens.

Yesterday, Brussels-based group EDRi leaked the EU Commission's "draft regulation on a telecom single market". As recently announced by commissioner Neelie Kroes, the draft -due to be officially presented in September- contains a provision allegedly protecting Net neutrality (article 20). But while seemingly protecting this fundamental principle, the Commission wants to allow telecom operators to discriminate our Internet communications and thereby kill the free and open Internet.Neelie Kroes

After laying down the Net neutrality principle1, the draft regulation makes it meaningless by saying that, "in the pursuit of the foregoing freedom (sic)", telecom operators should be free to impose data caps on users (which is a nonsense from an economic point of view)2 and to enter in business agreements providing faster data flows to big online services (i.a. Google or Facebook)3. This latter point is absolutely contrary to the definition of Net neutrality, according to which all data flows must be equally treated by network operators, regardless of their source, destination or application. It would severely hamper innovation online as well as the inclusiveness of the global communication platform we call the Internet. The leaked text contains several other exceptions to the principle4 which would in practice make it toothless.

Furthermore, Neelie Kroes wants to prevent national authorities from protecting online freedom of expression and innovation by introducing real protections for Net neutrality5, in the spirit of what the Netherlands and Slovenia have both already done in 2012. She would thereby be giving telcos a EU-wide shield to protect themselves from the kind of regulation they have been lobbying against these past years.

"Now we know what Neelie Kroes meant when she said her proposal would not be 'everything you dreamed of'; she meant it would infuriate citizens and please the telecom lobby. She seems to be preparing to betray all the citizens who, for the past four years, have been patiently demanding a EU Net neutrality legislation that would sanctuarize the key architectural features of the Internet. The Commission must urgently revise its proposal; and citizens and civil society organizations must be ready for one of the most important battles to protect an open Internet, free from harmful discriminatory practices favoring big corporations at the expense of all others.", said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. The Commission provides a vague, brief but seemingly accurate description of Net neutrality : "End-users shall be free to access and distribute information and content, run applications and use services of their choice."
  • 2. "End-users shall be free to agree on data volumes, speeds and general quality characteristics with providers of electronic communications to the public and, in accordance with any such agreements relative to data volumes, to avail of any offers by providers of content, applications and services, including offers with defined quality of service
  • 3. "To the same end, providers of content, applications and services and providers of electronic communications to the public shall be free to agree with each other on the treatment of the related data volumes or on the transmission of traffic with a defined quality of service."
  • 4. such as the vague notion of "preserving the integrity" of the network
  • 5. "The exercise of these freedoms shall not be restricted by national competent authorities, or, as regards the freedom laid down for end-users, by providers of electronic communications to the public, save in accordance with the provisions of this Regulation, the Directives and other provisions of Union law."

July 08 2013

Trans-Atlantic Trade Talks Bound to Harm Freedoms Online

Paris, 8 July 2013 — Today begins in Washington DC the first round of negotiations of the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, TAFTA (also known as TTIP1), amid concerns about the legitimacy of negotiating such a text under espionage by the US government. La Quadrature du Net publishes a leaked document [pdf] [text] showing that the EU is already preparing to attack citizens' freedoms online, turning TAFTA into a “super-ACTA”. La Quadrature calls on citizens to mobilize and calls negotiators to communicate TAFTA texts to the public as soon as they enter in their possession.

Karel De Gucht
Karel De Gucht

From 8 to 11 July 2013 in Washington DC, negotiators from the US and the EU (represented by the European Commission) will negotiate the first round of TAFTA, the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. Their discussion will likely attempt to determine the scope of agreement. Among the numerous "non-tariff", "regulatory issues" that have already been announced as part of the negotiations, one can look at a great range of issues such as access to medication, food safety, investor-state litigation and finance, copyright, patents, etc. It is highly questionable that any of these issues, critical for structuring our societies and determining our everyday life, could be better addressed by closed-door negotiations of a trade agreement between unelected representatives rather than debated democratically in Parliament.

La Quadrature du Net publishes a document from the EU negotiators of TAFTA [pdf] [text], related to Internet. It shows alarmingly that they intend to negotiate rules that could potentially have a deep impact on the Internet, with among others:

  • liability of Internet service providers: the European legal framework guarantees that service providers have no obligation to police and censor their networks. Altering this regime is precisely what entertainment industry wants and almost got through ACTA.
  • electronic commerce: various provisions concerning consumers' protection, including the processing of their personal data for commercial purpose would be included in TAFTA.
  • cyber-security: in a context of massive, generalized surveillance of our data by US intelligence agencies, the EU negotiators seem ready to deal how information about "security" should be shared with the US.

These are only examples of how critical parts of legislation could be negotiated within TAFTA, all of them bearing huge potential risks for our freedoms online. Not only the EU negotiators could commit to weaken protections of citizens' freedoms or free competition, but they could also ensure that bad EU legislation could never be revoked, by turning them into "gold standards". The precedent of ACTA shows that industries can have tremendous (if not total) influence on the content of such an agreement, and that EU negotiators from the Commission can hardly be trusted to defend general interest, as demonstrated by their chief, Commissioner De Gucht's outright lies to EU citizens and Parliament.

La Quadrature du Net calls on all citizens to mobilize and ask for the publication of any text proposed or negotiated behind the closed doors of TAFTA. The citizen organization also launches a solemn call to all of the (about 80) officials involved in the negotiations: “Honour democratic values and justice by leaking documents from TAFTA and contribute to foster transparency and public debate on these crucial issues!”

  • 1. TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is an attempt to rename TAFTA in a positive-sounding manner, "partnership", while avoiding to be too pronounceable or to sound too similar in pronunciation as "ACTA"

July 04 2013

TAFTA: Illegitimate EU-US Agreement Will Begin Under Total US Surveillance

Paris, 4 July 2013 — Today, exactly one year after the final rejection of ACTA, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in strong reaction to the massive spying by the USA. Our representatives have failed to demand that the upcoming secret negotiations of trans-atlantic trade agreement be frozen. In a context where EU officials are being spied upon by US counterparts, this upcoming “super-ACTA” will be born with very little legitimacy.

It has been one year to the day since a massive, global and decentralized citizen movement helped defeat ACTA, (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), a historic victory against governments attempting to attack our fundamental rights online.

NSA

Today the European Parliament adopted a resolution about PRISM and the massive, generalized surveillance programs of the NSA, in the wake of the recent revelations about the spying of all EU officials by the USA.

The Parliament failed to adopt amendments calling for the postponing of the negotiations of the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement or TAFTA (also known as TTIP1). As the EU Commission – whose representative in charge of TAFTA, Karel De Gucht, openly lied to the EU people and to the Parliament – announced that negotiations should move on, the Parliament now gives it the green light. It is an alarming sign for EU democracy that should get citizens mobilized.

Karel De Gutch

As both parties have already made clear, the upcoming TAFTA will be used as a vector to alter EU “regulatory issues” ranging from access to medicine, food safety, or finance. Like ACTA, it will also include provisions on copyright enforcement, and may affect the whole Internet ecosystem. It is set, by design, to be another attempt to circumvent democracy and undermine our fundamental rights online.

“In a context where all communications between EU negotiators will potentially be available to their US counterpart, how could the EU Commission be in a strong position to negotiate and defend citizens' freedoms? How could the negotiation be balanced? Among others, the will of negotiators to discuss 'data flows' instead of enforcing EU citizens fundamental right to privacy shows how these negotiations could once again be used to bow to the pressure of the US and its industries. In a context of massive spying of EU citizens' communication by US institutions and corporations, TAFTA would turn into yet another illegitimate agreement betraying EU citizens.” declares Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is an attempt to rename TAFTA in a positive-sounding manner, "partnership", while avoiding to be too pronounceable or to sound too similar in pronunciation as "ACTA"
Reposted byschwa schwa

May 23 2013

May 17 2013

April 25 2013

April 24 2013

Regulation Set To Strip Citizens Of Their Right To Privacy

Paris, 25 April 2013 — A coalition of international and european organisations, including Access, Bits of Freedom, Digitale Gesellschaft, EDRI, La Quadrature du Net, Open Rights Group, and Privacy International, release a commun campaign and website, nakedcitizens.eu. The site allows concerned citizens to contact their representatives in the European Parliament to urge them to vote in a way that ensures the protection of their fundamental right to privacy.

Regulation Set To Strip Citizens Of Their Right To Privacy

Civil rights groups urgently demand that Members of the European Parliament protect the privacy of their citizens

Since revisions to the EU legal framework on data protection were proposed, there has been an unprecedented level of lobbying by corporations and foreign governments. The European Parliament is considering dangerous amendments to the Commission's proposals. These amendments would strip citizens of their privacy rights, according to a report from a coalition of civil rights groups. The report bases its findings on the analysis of nearly 4000 proposed amendments currently discussed in the European Parliament.

“Without effective privacy protection, our personal lives are laid bare, to be used and abused by business and governments.” says Joe McNamee of European Digital Rights and spokesperson of the coalition. “We urge Members of the European Parliament to put citizen's rights first and vote against these harmful proposals.”

In view of the final vote in the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament on the Data Protection Regulation set for the 29th of May, the civil society coalition report highlights the five worst amendments to the Data Protection Regulation as proposed by Members of the European Parliament.

The Regulation proposed by the European Commission seeks to update and modernise the rules to suit the digital age, and provide citizens with greater control over their personal data. Excessive lobbying by large corporations and governments now means that this reform risks destroying the current legal framework.

Today's digital citizens need to be able to trust the online services they use. The exceptionally low levels of trust shown in both European and US consumer surveys are simply unsustainable for both citizens and business. Trust needs to be rebuilt by giving people back control over their own data through the right:
(1) to access and delete their own data,
(2) to move their data easily from one service to another,
(3) to know that consent to use their data for one purpose is not abused by companies which subsequently use the data for unrelated purposes,
(4) to know that their data is protected from foreign governments,
(5) to know that, if there is a security breach of their data, the company responsible is obliged to inform them.

To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

April 16 2013

Copyright: EU Commission Invokes Crisis to Stick to Repression

Paris, 16 April 2013 — The EU Commission is not yet ready to change course on copyright policy. With the release of two new roadmap documents1 on copyright, patent and trademark policy, the EU body who negotiated ACTA decides to stick to the status quo. And ironically invokes the crisis to urge for more of the same broken policies.

The Commission refuses to see that sharing of culture and knowledge is what can spur collaboration, foster innovation, and establish sovereignty over informational resources. Instead it calls in its new roadmap documents on the IPRED directive for the kind of policies that pushed thousands of EU citizens to take to the streets against ACTA last year, and which are already undermining fundamental rights online and holding back innovation.

After the ACTA debate, the Commission is aware of the copyright dogmas' growing lack of legitimacy. So it plays it soft and cautiously does not refer to privatised enforcement or privacy-invasive measures to protect the copyright industry's old business models. But in no way it is breaking away from repression. Demonstrating a deep misunderstanding of the relation between knowledge sharing and sustainable innovation, the Commission takes the ongoing economic and political crisis as an excuse to advocate for tougher copyright and patent enforcement. “The sub-optimal valuation of IPRs ['intellectual property rights'] is undermining the possibility for innovative and creative SMEs within the European Union to grow and create the sustainable, high quality jobs that the EU requires, in particular in these recessionary times” the Commission argues in one its roadmap documents.

It is irresponsible for the Commission to refuse to acknowledge the potential of more flexible copyright and patent regimes to foster innovation, resilience and empowerement in communities across the EU in these times of crisis.

“These times are troubled times indeed. They require policies aimed at promoting the circulation of culture and knowledge, not service to rent-seekers. The Commission remains blind to the failure of its policies based on restrictions and control over knowledge. This approach has only led to undermining political and social rights of citizens, both online and offline. It is making our economies more rigid, less prone to innovation. We need to resist the harmful influence of the countless lobbies from the media, telecoms and other powerful sectors seeking to stick to an outdated status quo, and implement new models delivering a better resilience through decentralization and sharing.” concluded Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

March 29 2013

EU Copyright: We Need Actions, Not Consultations!

Paris, 29 March 2013 — Two years after a first consultation, the European Commission is conducting yet-another public consultation on the “Civil enforcement of intellectual property rights”, essentially on the IPRED directive1. Many aspects of this new consultation are similar to the previous one, and call for similar answers. La Quadrature du Net therefore re-sent its previous submission and denounces a process aiming at buying time to delay any debate on the urgent need to reform copyright.

Initially, the European Commission proposed a revision of IPRED to “adapt” it to the digital environment, and to step up the war against online sharing, in line with ACTA2. This new public consultation's only purpose is to postpone the urgent reform of copyright3, after the rejection of ACTA by the European Parliament and the mobilization of citizens against such dangerous repressive measures online. Rather than trying to buy time and continuing to protect the interest of the entertainment industry, the European Commission must urgently make copyright serve access to culture by overhauling the heavily criticized 2001/29 EUCD Copyright Directive4. In 2010, instead of commissioning a truly independent study of IPRED and its impact, the European Commission services produced a report which is a mere reproduction of the entertainment industry calls for weakening the liability exemptions of intermediaries. Nine years after the enactment of IPRED and its repressive measures, it's time to finally conduct a true impact study in order to illustrate its failure to adapt copyright to Internet communications, to revise it and to open a real debate on a legislative framework adapted to the digital era.

Citizens can submit their own response to the consultation until the 30 March (and probably until Monday morning), to make these points clear and avoid playing the European Commission's game.

Download La Quadrature du Net's response: “IPRED Versus The Sharing of Culture: Moving Away From Enforcement” (in PDF).

See also, the EDRI's answering guide.

To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

EU Commission contact details
Responsible service:
Internal Market and Services DG,
Unit D.3 – Fight against counterfeiting and piracy

E-mail:
markt-iprenforcement@ec.europa.eu

Postal address:
European Commission
SPA 2
1049 Brussels
Belgium

  • 1. IPRED (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive) is an EU directive organizing the repression of infringements of copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc. Because of its overreaching nature, IPRED harms access to culture, and hampers new cultural practices such as remixing, but also the development of new technologies and innovation in general.
  • 2. IPRED can be used to push Internet actors –search engines, hosting services, access providers– to automatically censor communications in order to combat online sharing of cultural works.
  • 3. See La Quadrature's proposals: https://www.laquadrature.net/en/elements-for-the-reform-of-copyright-and-related-cultural-policies
  • 4. Officially the Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society

March 19 2013

Will You Let Protection of Your Data Go Down the Drain?

Brussels, 19 March 2013 — The “Legal Affairs” (JURI) Committee, the fourth and last one on this matter, had just voted its opinion on the European Commission's proposal of data protection regulation, led by Marielle Gallo (France - EPP). With this latest opinion vote, slightly less catastrophic than the previous ones, the European Parliament weakened once again the protection of citizen's personal data. Members of the four committees who gave their opinion chose to side with giant US corporations such as Facebook and Google that collect, process and trade data about our everyday life. Citizen mobilization is slowly starting to bear fruit, yet it must be tremendously amplified before the crucial vote of the main “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) Committee -scheduled for 24-25 April, but likely to be postponed- on its report.


Marielle Gallo

Once again, Marielle Gallo (France - PPE) chose to protect business interests rather than citizens' rights, and led the “Legal Affairs” (JURI) Committee to vote an opinion weakening the initial proposal by the European Commission to protect citizens' privacy. Amendments by Marielle Gallo and her conservative colleagues (helped by most Members of the liberal (ALDE) group) call for instance for allowing companies to process citizens' personal data and transmit them to third parties who can do whatever they want with them, if they claim it is their “legitimate interest”1. Some other adopted amendments call for the processing of data for uses incompatible with the original data collection2 and introduce all kinds of loopholes.

Thus, this vote follows the line of the “Consumers” (IMCO) vote of January, and of the “Industry” (ITRE) and “Employment's” (EMPL) votes of February, which already include most of the demands of the industry lobbies and jeopardized the protections initially laid down by proposal of the European Commission.

Still, all previous votes including this one were only opinion votes, with no legislative value. The next vote in the main “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) Committee, scheduled for the end of April, but likely to be postponed, will be the real decisive step that will determine if the EU will allow a full control of their personal data by citizens or a US-like regime where corporations can do anything they want, and process, store, sell citizens data without any constraint.

Yet, today's vote was slightly less catastrophic than previous ones, demonstrating that the Members of the European Parliament may be sensitive to the citizen mobilization and pressure from the media, and that they will only protect our right to privacy if we push them hard to do so. Before the LIBE vote, citizens must mobilize and contact their MEPs.

“Crucial stakes about our privacy and the future of online economy will be played in the main 'Civil Liberties' Committee. By increasing pressure on their elected representatives, citizens can put them in front of their responsibilities and impose that Facebook, Google and such gigantic corporations are not given an 'open bar' access to their personal data. We must retain control of our data, as it is our way to keep control of our lives online. All we be played between now and the upcoming European elections.” concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

March 15 2013

March 12 2013

Net Neutrality Neutralised in France?

Paris, 12 March 2013 — Questioned by the French government on the need to legislate on the protection of freedoms on the Internet, the National Digital Council (Conseil national du numérique or CNNum) published today an opinion on Net neutrality1 [fr]. It recommends that the French government makes this principle of non-discrimination into law, broadening its scope to include search engines and other online services. But by overbroadening the neutrality principle, the CCNum's recommendations could result in a meaningless law.

The CNNum's opinion2, if it suggests advances for the protection of citizens by calling on the French government to enshrine the principle of Net neutrality into law, blurs this concept by trying to also include search engines and “social networks”3.

But in extending the principle of Net neutrality to all kinds of Internet actors, the National Digital Council overlooks the main issue at stake: establishing specific measures concerning telecom operators' obligations. No actual sanctions are proposed to implement the Net neutrality principle in the face of restrictions imposed by operators.

This dilution of the concept of Net neutrality combined with the absence of binding measures unfortunately raises fears that the National Digital Council's report will not lead to any efficient or even applicable measure.

“The National Digital Council has failed to propose a strong and effective protection of Net neutrality. In trying to solve different problems with one magic bullet, this opinion could result in a neutralised neutrality that won't solve anything. As have already done the Netherlands, Slovenia, Chile and Peru, France must legislate to protect Net neutrality and include sanctions against operators that illegitimately restrict access to online communications. If the future law promised by the government were to follow the National Digital Council's recommendations and only protect a vaguely defined neutrality, the Parliament would then have to amend the text for it to have any legs.” concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

  • 1. Net neutrality, or network neutrality, is a founding principle of the Internet which guarantees that telecoms operators do not discriminate online content, services or applications, be it according to the source, the recipient, or the nature of the information being transmitted. This principle ensures that all users, whatever their resources, access the same and whole network, and makes freedom of communication and innovation possible.
  • 2. See also its report: https://www.laquadrature.net/files/CNNum-rapport-sur-la-neutralite-du-net [fr]
  • 3. These online services are defined as “access and communication services open to the public” (our translation)
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