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European court: providers not required to monitor online activity

The European court has ruled yesterday against forcing online providers to monitor customers online activity, to try and filter out illegal sharing of music and software. The ruling, by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will certainly please many people in Europe, but it will not please music copyright owners who have been trying hard to get tighter rulings to stop file sharing.

Sabam, sued a Belgian Internet provider, Scarlet Extended, claiming that their customers were illegally sharing music files. Sabam initially won a ruling in court to force the company to install a filter, halting sharing of songs. The Luxembourg court however has said that this would be ‘disproportionate' and would violate “the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information.”

The court added “E.U. law precludes an injunction made against an Internet service provider requiring it to install a system for filtering all electronic communications passing via its services, which applies indiscriminately to all its customers, as a preventive measure, exclusively at its expense, and for an unlimited period.”

Consumer rights groups seem positive about the ruling as Internet providers will not be asked to police their customers activity.

Malcolm Hutty, president of EuroISPA, a service providers lobbying group said “This ruling is of fundamental importance for the future of the Internet and the development of a strong digital single market.”

Kitguru says: A ruling in favour of the common man?

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