Friday, 6 November 2009

Greens and Pirate Party lead EU charge for Internet freedom

Sometimes something unexpected happens in politics which re-affirms your belief in the political bedfellows you keep - I came across a small but heartening example of this yesterday, while musing over the Government's latest draconian attack on Internet freedom and discovering that the Green Party has been resisting it at EU level.

Last week, Busimness Secretary Peter Mandelson, fresh from holidaying with media mogul David Geffen, announced that the Government will be pressing ahead with its ideas of banning internet users who 'share' even little parcels of copyrighted material from using the internet at all.

God what a draconian response to a request from his rich mates to protect their markets - the truth is that it's the David Geffens of this world that have most to gain from enforcing out-dated copyright rules on digital files.

Banning file sharers from using the internet at all? That's like banning people who use adverts in magazines to break the law - those who promote cleaning services by illegally trafficked women, for example - from reading.

So I was delighted yesterday to discover that Mandy's plan looks set to breach the rules of a new EU telcoms package - and leading the charge for Internet users' rights have been the Greens and the Pirate Party.

It turns out that Green MEPs have been working closely with their coalition ally and  Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström, to fight attempts to introduce the‘three strike’ rule for people who illegally download material.

Green Party leader and MEP Caroline Lucas, describing the proposals as “excessive”, said the proposal had been rejected by the European Parliament, but warned that the struggle for Internet freedom was far from over.

Speaking after the debate, she said: “Lord Mandelson’s draconian anti-piracy measures, which mirror the French ‘Hadopi’ internet piracy bill, are excessive – especially given the complex dynamics behind filesharing. The European Parliament must continue to stand up to the Council's blatant attempts to erode citizens' rights and deprive people of an essential service."

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