The draft Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was released last week to a mixed reaction, but did generate some consensus that it had addressed the issue of copyright infringement in an even-handed way.
However, internet service providers (ISPs) believe that their concerns on the discussions are being ignored, and that entertainment industry groups are lobbying policymakers to ensure that the document favours their interests.
ISPs have argued that, although the draft document removes any form of graduated response, it still requires them to monitor internet traffic, block certain web sites, and even remove subscribers in order to avoid liability from prosecution.
EuroISPA, which represents over 1,700 ISPs in Europe, has argued that the draft ACTA agreement will put ISPs on unsure ground and hurt their position.
"The text goes far beyond the existing implementation of the European regulatory framework regarding liability, introducing measures that will damage the industry via the creation of undue liability on ISPs," it said.
A EuroISPA spokesman told V3.co.uk that its members are worried that ACTA will force them to introduce technical measures to monitor traffic, something many are reluctant to do.
"ISPs are only meant to be providers of information. We are not obliged to monitor traffic or block content unless told to do so by official authorities. The danger with the ACTA draft proposals is that ISPs will be forced to police the internet," he said.
The spokesman added that the European Commission (EC) should not be bragging about having the draft document made public because it is obliged under the Lisbon Treaty to make all discussions transparent.
"The EC decided to go alone in ACTA in order to save time. However, with the [European] Parliament demanding that the EC make the discussions public, it's become a lot more complicated and many members of the EC now think it would have been better to have been transparent from the beginning," he said.
EuroISPA president Malcolm Hutty does not believe that the changes to ACTA should be able to alter EU regulations, which currently protect ISPs from any form of monitoring.
"We believe that ACTA should not undermine the protections from liability for online intermediaries in the Acquis Communautaire [the total body of EU law] by subordinating them to other policy goals," he said.
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