INTUG Position on the Protection of Business User Rights to Internet Access in the Information Society


Letter from INTUG to the Conciliation Committee. BELTUG is a very active member of INTUG, and represented in the Board.

23 October 2009

Dear Member of the Conciliation Committee,
Protection of Business User Rights to Internet Access in the Information Society
The International Telecommunications Users Group (INTUG) represents the interests of major business users of telecommunications throughout the EU. These include some of the world’s largest financial institutions, car manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, fast moving consumer goods enterprises, and retail and distribution companies. The INTUG community includes many large Member States, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK, and the multinational user group EVUA, representing public and private sector customers of telecom operators.
On behalf of this business community, we are seriously concerned about the proposed text concerning remedial actions against those believed to have illegally downloaded material.
This is driven by content owners and digital publishers and, without adequate safeguards,
it would result in ISPs disconnecting users suspected of allegedly breaching copyright.
We supported the European Parliament’s proposed Amendment 138, which prevented ISP disconnection without a full judicial process and judgement against the alleged infringer.
The compromise text “agreed” this week lacks robustness and leaves the door wide open for Member States to apply their own remedies. This conflicts with the aims of the Single Market, and contravenes 3 fundamental rights for participation in the Information Society:
- an Internet user, like any citizen, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law
(the original text was acknowledged to be unconstitutional in some Member States)
- detection of copyright infringement requires unapproved "deep packet inspection"
(the level required infringes an Internet user's right to privacy)
- disconnection from the Internet in today's society removes a human right of access
(the Internet is now needed for access to essential services and information).
Business users have a further major objection to the Council position. Disconnection of a business from the Internet because of copyright infringement by one of its employees or associates via the business Internet connection (possibly indirectly via a dial up access to the corporate network from home) would be wholly disproportionate and inappropriate.
The Framework Review as a whole has much to commend it and must be adopted now,
to enable the telecom regulation which the EU needs for open and competitive markets. The threatened denial of access to the Internet without proper judicial process, must not, however, be included as a necessary price to pay for Council agreement at this stage.
Yours sincerely

Rosemary Sinclair, Chairman, INTUG         Nick White, Executive Vice President, INTUG

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