Daily Archives: November 7, 2009

The EU Tackles Rights To Internet Access

A couple of days ago, the EU agreed to an “Internet Freedom Provision” that makes sure that due process is respected when dealing with someone who has allegedly violated some rule and is facing having their internet connection shut off for good. The provision makes clear the process of shutting off an internet connection by reinforcing judicial review, presumed innocence, and privacy rights.

However, the provision also allows for gradual response measures. This is probably to appease the French government and it’s HADOPI law. Last year, the European Parliament attempted to pass Amendment 138 after France initially passed HADOPI. This was in response the HADOPI’s original presumption of guilt and requirement of a national blacklist of offenders.

The problem now is that the provision only protects those who have been sanctioned by the national government and not by a private company or individual. This means that, for example, the IFPI can file a complaint with, let’s say DNA here in Finland, regarding someone who is uploading mp3s. This provision does not protect the user from DNA shutting off their internet connection.

Last month the Finnish government declared that, starting July 2010, people in Finland will have the right to at least a 1 Mb connection. But does that mean the right can be taken away? Or is this a guaranteed, no matter what, right?

When that story broke, commentators on various sites questioned internet access as a right saying that, “It’s a privilege, not a right. Who the hell is Finland to say otherwise?”

While in the States you can pay your bills online or use your debit card, people are still paying their bills at the local bank or grocery store. There are also people still using paper checks. Here in Finland, paper checks are a thing of the past and paying your bills online is the preferred method to pay your bills. The older generations are the few who still stroll into the local Osuuspankki or Nordea to pay their bills. They are also the reason why I stay away from my local Nordea branch. 30+ min. wait time to ask a question from a cashier? No thanks.

My point is that the internet has become integrated into our lives so much that we can no longer afford to do without internet access. You may not need to, but I need to pay my bills. It was a privilege back in 1999, but ten years later it is a right.

It’s time to catch up with the rest of us.