Providers steeds vaker ingezet voor handhaving

In Nederland werken internetproviders met het Meldpunt Kinderporno op initiatief van het Ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie aan een internetfilter. De verschuiving naar private handhaving is in heel Europa te zien, aldus EDRi.

In de aankondiging op haar website schrijft EDRi:

European Digital Rights has published a study on the increasing tendency for governments to ask, demand or coerce Internet intermediaries to carry out surveillance, policing, judging and sanctioning measures on their customers.

In het rapport The slide from self-regulation to corporate censorship concludeert zij:

There is unquestionably a huge volume of initiatives on a national, regional and international level that seek to change the nature of the relationship between Internet intermediaries and their consumers. The purpose of all of these initiatives is to create, as the OECD puts it, an increased role for these intermediaries in the achievement of “public policy objectives.”

It is also clear that technological and market developments since the beginning of the last decade (when the current intermediary liability regime was created) have led both to increasing legal uncertainty and increased incentives for intermediaries to become more involved in the data that they enable access to, in order to provide “non-neutral” access to the Internet.

Interested third parties, such as intellectual property owners, who find it understandably easier to focus their efforts on a comparatively small number of intermediaries rather than a larger number of individual infringers, have lobbied for courts and governments to look again at such intermediary liability, in order to encourage policing of the Internet by these private companies. Similarly, some governments see it as easier and quicker to coerce online intermediaries into carrying out policing (and prevention) duties rather than devoting scarce public resources to this purpose.

Despite a wealth of academic research showing the dangers of thisapproach for transparency and fundamental rights, governments and regional organisations such as the European Union appear to treat delegated law enforcement (commonly referred to as “self-regulation” in order to borrow the positive connotations that this has in relation to projects where the intermediaries are actually regulating themselves) as an unquestioned good.

As a consequence of these market and political developments, while there has been a degree of law- based regulation in the digital environment, we have now reached a stage in the development of the Internet where essentially every aspect of our online activity is subject to regulation by private companies, based on and motivated by – in various proportions at various moments – public relations concerns, business priorities, threats of strict regulatory interventions and worries about civil and even criminal liability.

Internet access providers have been coerced in several European countries into the blocking of entire domain names (such as

It is arresting that a move of such importance to society has so far been carried out with very little analysis about the long term consequences of this strategy and without a clear democratic decision indicating that this is genuinely in the best interest of society.