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Europe Warns States and ISPs NOT to Cutoff Users Without a Judge

Posted: 24th Nov, 2009 By: MarkJ
pirateThe European Commission (EC) has set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons after it issued a warning to Spain over the country’s plans to tackle illegal P2P file sharing. The EC said any policy that would force or allow broadband ISPs to disconnecting customers "suspected" of illegal downloading would first require a court order or risk conflict with the EU.

EU Commissioner, Vivane Reding, is quoted by TorrentFreak as saying:

"Spanish measures that allow for the disruption of Internet access without a fair hearing before a judge, are certain to clash with the European Union."

It's interesting to contrast this with last weeks UK Digital Economy Bill (here) and the new EU Telecoms Package (here), some elements of which appear to conflict with Reding's own comments. The new EU Telecoms Package "guaranteed ... the right to an effective and timely judicial review".

However the text of Amendment 138 (EU Telecoms Package) is somewhat ambiguous and has been left open to a wide degree of interpretation; some suggest a court trial is require prior to disconnect and others that a simple independent appeals process would be enough (read: kangaroo court).

The UK's Digital Economy Bill proposed just such an appeals process, though it failed to flesh out any details about how this would be structured. The new comments by Reding make it clear that the EU's own interpretation of their new Telecoms Package is that no state should disconnect a user before a judge gives the individual a fair hearing.
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