Digital Civil Rights in Europe

Published in EDRi-gram 8.23

The European Commission (EC) recently published its “Internal Security Strategy” – a wide-ranging security programme covering international crime networks, radicalisation, cybersecurity, border management and crisis/disaster management.

One almost amusing element is how it included “piracy” (meaning unauthorised downloads) as a security issue. The logic is very reminiscent of the 1980s British comedy “Yes Prime Minister” where a senior civil servant explains to a colleague how to argue to stop power being put in the hands of citizens. “All cats have four legs, so does my dog. So my dog is a cat”. Counterfeiting is sometimes carried out by criminal gangs, who are a security threat. Counterfeiting is an intellectual property infringement. “Piracy” is an intellectual property infringement, so “piracy” is a security threat.

Meanwhile, some elements that are missing are also interesting. For example, the Strategy argues that “security should be integrated in relevant strategic partnerships” but, having accused major trading partners like the USA of failing to take action against online child abuse and international trade in abuse images, the strategy prioritises “trafficking in human beings, drugs trafficking and terrorism” for this action. Indeed, while the strategy covers, in the Commission’s own words “seemingly petty crimes”, the child abuse that was such a priority when tackling the symptoms via blocking, fails to get a single mention in the document.

Read the entire article in EDRi-gram.

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