UN Report: 3-Strikes is a “Violation of Human Rights”

UN Report: 3-Strikes is a “Violation of Human Rights”

Frank La Rue, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, submits report concluding that disconnecting Internet users, “regardless of the justification provided,” is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because it limits the type of media individuals are allowed to use to express themselves.

It appears as though the UK and France have some explaining to do now that UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue submitted a report to the Human Rights Council concluding that Internet disconnection is a violation of human rights because it illegally restricts the type of media individuals are allowed to use to express themselves.

The report explored ways to promote and protect the right of freedom and expression, particularly “key trends and challenges to the right of all individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds through the Internet.”

“The Special Rapporteur underscores the unique and transformative nature of the Internet not only to enable individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, but also a range of other human rights, and to promote the progress of society as a whole,” it reads.

With this in mind he says he’s “alarmed” by proposals to disconnect individuals from the Internet for copyright law violations. He says that individuals should never have their Internet access terminated for any reason, including copyright infringement, and that to do so would be a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“While blocking and filtering measures deny users access to specific content on the Internet, States have also taken measures to cut off access to the Internet entirely,” it reads. “The Special Rapporteur considers cutting off users from Internet access, regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

That article specifies that everyone has the right to freedom of expression in any type of media.

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice,” it reads.

It’s a slippery slope if the govt is able to dictate what types of media individuals can use to express themselves.

This applies most notably to France and the UK which either have a “three-strikes” disconnection scheme in place (France) or are in the process of establishing one (UK). Though neither country have begun disconnecting Internet users both have enacted legislation in place that permits it in order to combat online infringement.

“This also includes legislation based on the concept of ‘graduated response’, which imposes a series of penalties on copyright infringers that could lead to suspension of Internet service, such as the so-called ‘three-strikes-law’ in France and the Digital Economy Act 2010 of the United Kingdom,” he wrote.

It’s hard to argue with his line of reasoning. The Internet is more than about email and YouTube, it’s about news, politics, business, art, history, music, and so much more.

What do you think?

Stay tuned.

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