Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

French court backs judicial approach to illegal downloading

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The French constitutional court has ruled that only a judge in a court of law may act to suspend an internet access subscription (www.totaltele.com reference; limited viewing time).

This issue is important since the French government had sought to implement an alternative administrative procedure under which a government body would request illegal downloaders to stop, first by e-mail and then by registered mail, before cutting off access in cases of continued non-compliance – a sort of ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule. This had caused potential confrontation within European regulatory circles since the European Parliament last month backed an amendment to the forthcoming telecoms regulatory package requiring a prior ruling from the relevant judicial authorities before an individual citizens’ internet access could be cut-off.

French insistence on a shorter, non-judicial process may well have derailed the EU package, which has taken several years of effort to produce, including with lobbying from Connect via Union Network International on issues such as the need for consultation with employees on functional separation, and for trade unions to be seen as stakeholders, and the establishment of regulatory predictability to encourage infrastructure investment. UNI had previously published a statement regretting the loss of the package prior to the Parliamentary elections, over the specific issue of internet users’ rights in France, which would have required the review of the legislation and, potentially, the new Parliament starting the process afresh.

The decision of France’s constitutional court, however, may well facilitate a more rapid approval of the package than had otherwise been expected in the conciliation process now underway, thus saving the legislation from the need for review by the new Parliament.

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Written by Calvin

12/06/2009 at 1:13 pm

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