United Nations Report: File-Sharing Disconnections Violate Human Rights

The United Nations adopted a report today that says that disconnecting file-sharers from the Internet is a violation of human rights. The Report of the Special Rapporteur was published in May. The report focused on the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, and moves by various governments to take away an individual’s Internet access.

"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," read the report.

The report goes on to say that various anti-file-sharing laws violate international law:

"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."

In case you are wondering, here is what Article 19 says:

Article 19
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. 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.

3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

The report goes on to say that governments throughout the world should maintain Internet access during times of "political unrest" and urged them to change copyright laws that take away citizens’ rights to Internet access.

"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," notes the report.

"In particular, the Special Rapporteur urges States to repeal or amend existing intellectual copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws," the report adds.

The United Kingdom’s Digital Economy Act and France’s Hadopi legislation are cited as prime examples of laws that have provisions to remove Internet access.

Source: TorrentFreak

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  1. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    Ok, even more interesting:

    The US ratified the ICCPR, but, to my knowledge, has only signed, but not ratified, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, ironically, has Article 19 which reads:

    • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    I am curious as to why there seem to be so many duplicate documents and such out there, basically saying the same thing.  This ICCPR is a new document to me.  And, oddly enough, while learning about documents such as the US Constitution and its Amendments, I don’t recall ever being taught about documents such as the ICCPR OR the UDHR.

    Follow up:  Just looked up the ICCPR and apparently both the ICCPR and the UDHR are part of a larger document, the International Bill of Human Rights.  So my question about the US ratifying one part of that overall document but only signing the other continues in a confused state.  And the fact that these documents, for the most part, came into being prior to my birth and went into effect while I was still in grade school, yet I was never educated about them (despite attending a school for the blind for the majority of my life, you’d think this would still be included in SOME cirriculum).


    NW2K Software


    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  2. 0
    Technogeek says:

    For what it’s worth, the United States has ratified the ICCPR. So regardless of your view of international law, Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution could come into play within American jurisdiction.

    What’s really fun is that this is based off Article 19, paragraph 3 of the treaty, which the Senate explicitly stated during ratification was of a greater priority than anything else in the treaty.

  3. 0
    Nerd42 says:

    I don’t pay much heed to what the UN says human rights are or aren’t as a matter of principle because I distrust the whole concept of "international law" as it’s being put forward these days. I am opposed to the idea of a one-world government, no matter how democratic it is.

    So …. maybe I’m too picky, but I would be happier with this if the UN just said they thought disconnecting peoples internet because of file sharing was wrong and left it at that. I dunno if home Internet access is a fundametnal human right; that seems kinda dodgy to me. But disconnecting peoples internet over this is bad policy.

    BTW this post is totally on-subject as this is a poitical event which impacts intellectual property policy which impacts all commercial creative endeavors which includes video games

  4. 0
    Left4Dead says:

    Interesting story, especially given that the U.S. is one of the biggest players in the UN.  Then again, the UN doesn’t exactly have teeth.

    Side note:  Not quite sure what this article has to do with video games.  If I can’t search and find a reference to the word "game" or the phrase "video games" in the body of the article, then it probably shouldn’t be published until there is such a reference.

    – Left4Dead

    Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

    -- Left4Dead --

  5. 0
    captain_cthulhu says:

    I’m always surprised when it appears that someone has our back – a phenomenon that was already becoming increasingly rare. Will Sarkozy admit he’s wrong because the United Nations says so? probably not but I can’t wait to hear the retorts from the MPAA/RIAA/3-strikes crowd talking about how disappointed they are in the United Nations. haha, actually i’m sure they will keep quiet about this one.

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