The Court of Justice of the European Union yesterday issued a press release stating that “According to Advocate General Cruz Villalón, a measure ordering an internet service provider to install a system for filtering and blocking electronic communications in order to protect intellectual property rights in principle infringes fundamental rights.”
In other words web blocking to try and prevent unlawful P2P downloading is wrong.
“Advocate General Cruz Villalón considers 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. By the same token, the deployment of such a system would restrict freedom of information, which is also protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
This is an independent legal opinion and not a court judgement but I understand that the court normally adheres to the Advocate General’s line. This particular opinion is issued in relation to the Scarlet Sabam case which involves copyright infringement. In my mind this should also extend to other areas where calls have been made to introduce web blocking such as porn.
It will be interesting to see the reaction to this opinion in the UK. Communications minister Ed Vaizey has been in the press recently with his controversial initiative to see whether ISPs and RightsHolders would be able to find an acceptable way of blocking access to sites promoting P2P file sharing and copyright infringement.