Subscribers Must Be Allowed To Circumvent Content Filters, Europe Says

ISPs who agree to filter illegal music and video out of P2P or other networks would have to tell subscribers about the practice – and let them turn the feature off, under a recommendation from the body that drew up the European Convention on Human Rights. Deploying deep-packet inspection technology is one suggestion content owners have made in the piracy fight. They have already taken Eircom to court in Ireland to force it to do so, though ISPs there, as in the UK, argue monitoring to such a degree is scarcely possible.

But the Council of Europe’s committee of ministers has drawn up a new recommendation calling on member states to “ensure that users are made aware of activated filters and, where appropriate, are able to activate and deactivate them and be assisted in varying the level of filtering in operation”. Amongst a lengthy list of recommendations, it’s this that could jar against any efforts to block access to illegally-hosted digital material. That makes it more likely that the government-backed three-strikes-and-out policy – under which ISPs would monitor users’ actual download activity – will become the strategy rather than content filtering.

In Belgium last year, copyright body SABAM won a court ruling forcing ISP Scarlet to install Audible (NSDQ: ADBL) Magic filtering software to prevent illegal downloads, even though Europe’s E-commerce Directive says ISPs are merely conduits and not culpable for monitoring their customers