Recently it seemed that ISPs were being forced to limit
users’ freedoms more and more, with BT’s court-enforced blocking of Newzbin being but one example. While content theft and piracy are
genuine concerns, this kind of policing is a slippery slope – especially when
many sites tread a grey line.
Now, however, those who were worried by this trend can
breathe just a little easier, as the European Court of Justice yesterday ruled
that “EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court
which requires an internet service provider to install a filtering system with
a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files”.
In other words, the UK’s High Court ruling forcing BT
to block access to certain websites (including Newzbin) is essentially unlawful,
as national law must operate within the confines of EU directives. Whether ISPs
can still implement such measures on their own initiative is another question.
With the Internet being the primary source of information, social
exchange and data consumption for so many, it’s an invaluable resource that
needs to be protected from exploitation. And while this works both ways,
ultimately it’s the freedom of its users that should – and indeed must – take priority.
So are you happy with this development or were you cheering
the BT precedent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.