Sunday, February 07, 2010

UK Human Rights Committee on "three strikes" Rule

Digital Economy Bill introduced by the UK Government in the House of Lards on 19 November 2009 contains so-called "three strike" rule (gratuate response). This is to combat an illegal file-sharing via a two-stage process: first, by requiring ISPs to maintain a list of accounts of suspected users; and second, through delegated powers to introduce technical measures, such as disconnection.

The Billl provoked concerns about rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and procedural justice and fairness. On February 5, 2010, the Joint Committee on Human Rights appointed by the House of Lords and the House of Commons issued its final report on the issues.

Concerning the procedural fairness and justice, the report says:

"1.44 We accept that there is no clear answer to whether the decisions taken during the process of issuing copyright infringement reports and infringement lists involve the determination of any individuals’ civil rights and that it is unlikely that Article 6 ECHR is engaged. However, in the light of the acceptance by the EU that a fair process is necessary for regulation of individual service users’ access to the internet, we consider that statutory provision for a right to appeal to an independent body against inclusion on any infringement list at this stage would lead to a fairer procedure and so be a human rights enhancing measure.


1.48 Although there is very little detail about the appeal mechanism, the enforcement and reviewing bodies on the face of the Bill, it is our view that, provided the time frame for review and appeal is adequate and the measures are routinely suspended until the right of appeal is exhausted, it is unlikely that these provisions will be structurally incompatible with Article 6 ECHR. The provision of a review by an independent reviewing body and a full right to appeal before the First Tier Tribunal, prior to the imposition of any sanction is adequate to meet the requirements of the Convention for a hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal."

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