July 19, New York, NY - Leslie Harris will participate in a panel at Evidon Empower 2011 entitled "As Easy as D-N-T?"
Rights. They can be implicit or explicit, protected by constitution, written into law, or recognized in international treaty. Some were first defined centuries ago, others are being conceptualized today. Rarely are they uncontested. Rights are the theme of this issue of TPD: the rights of copyright holders, the "right to be forgotten," and the right to an open Internet.
ISPs and Content Industry Align to Combat Piracy
Last week, major ISPs joined the leading trade associations for the music and movie industries in announcing an agreement to cooperate in delivering a series of escalating "alerts" to suspected copyright infringers. CDT welcomed the idea of a voluntary, notification-centric approach, which avoids many of the serious concerns that would be raised by government mandates, the deployment of monitoring or filtering technologies, or a draconian "three strikes" approach that disconnects Internet users. But there are risks as well, making close ongoing scrutiny essential. Whether the agreement will meet its promise for reducing online copyright infringement or instead undermines the rights of Internet users will depend on how it is implemented.
The Right to Be Forgotten
The idea of being able to "disappear" embarrassing online content is naturally seductive. Some in the U.S. have called for the creation of an "eraser button" for the Internet, and European Union policymakers are considering adopting a "right to be forgotten." However, while the "right to be forgotten" is easily grasped in theory, its practical realization faces many complexities. As CDT President Leslie Harris explained in her regular ABC News column, the content that may exist online about you includes information you post yourself, information others post about you, and information someone copies from your postings and puts online somewhere else. "Forgetting" even in the first scenario may be difficult to fully implement on sites where content from multiple users is intermingled. And situations where others are posting or re-posting information about you implicate not only your rights, but the rights of those other users. Instead of trying to implement a broad "right to be forgotten," Harris concludes, we would be better off working to create comprehensive privacy protections for users based on long-recognized principles such as transparency, data minimization, and individual access to data.
The Right to an Open Internet
As recent events in the Middle East made clear once again, the Internet is a powerful tool for the achievement of human rights and democracy. At the same time, given the increasing centrality of the Internet to modern society, the worlds' governments are increasingly turning their regulatory attention to the Internet to address a range of concerns. The key question of Internet governance today is how can we chart a path forward that supports the open Internet globally while also responding to cyber-crime and other threats. On June 29, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) adopted a set of "Internet policy principles" intended to take the first steps toward guiding Internet policymaking in an open Internet.
There are many good elements in these principles. Most important, the principles expressly support the open user-centric Internet and urge policymaking to honor the Internet's essential attributes. The principles also insist that policymaking be consistent with human rights and rule of law, but the push-and-pull among various stakeholders' resulted in some ambiguous language that could be misconstrued in harmful ways. CDT is particularly concerned about the text regarding responsibilities of Internet access providers and other intermediaries, which if taken out of context may be read by some as justifying government regulation and encouraging private agreements that erode the protections for Internet intermediaries from liability for content created by others. Such interpretations of the principles would be dangerous to the open, decentralized, user-controlled Internet and contrary to the intent of the signatories. The Internet community must commit to ensuring that the OECD principles are interpreted and applied to preserve, not curtail, the openness that is key to the Internet's success.
Sen. Wyden and Rep. Chaffetz introduced the Geolocation, Privacy, and Surveillance (GPS) Act in both houses of Congress. This is the third major bill addressing location privacy introduced in the past month, signaling an unprecedented level of Congressional interest.
CDT summer intern Julie Adler summarizes the range of views presented at a public forum on location- based services recently convened by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
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