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Doubts about European Parliament’s ideas to crack down on illegal live streams of sports events

Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

On Monday, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee will vote on a call to crack down on unauthorised live streams of sports events (e.g. football games). The draft resolution calls for obliging providers to remove manifestly illegal streams within 30 minutes after being notified. “Trusted flaggers” could have streams taken down even where it is unclear whether they are legal or not. The text also advocates “blocking injunctions” targeted at Internet Service Providers (ISP), including “dynamic” blocking injunctions that would allow the industry to add new blocking targets without judicial review.[1]

“This text appears to have been dictated by industry lobbyists, it threatens fundamental digital rights”, comments MEP Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party). “It is completely at odds with the European Parliament’s position on the Digital Services Act which is sufficient to deal with illegal content. A 30 minute delay would be even shorter than what will be required for taking down terrorist content, and much too short outside business hours. Allowing private ‘flaggers’ with vested interests to have content removed without an assessment by an independent judicial authority would result in the over-blocking of legal content.“

Breyer elaborates: „And requiring ISPs to block access is easy to circumvent by changing DNS servers. Blocking access to an entire IP address results in massive collateral damage on valuable legal content. All in all, the profit-driven quest for ever more draconian measures ignores the obvious: the best way of reducing illegal streaming is to ensure that there is universal and affordable legal access to sport event broadcasts, both subscription-based and pay-per-view.”

Breyer’s group Greens/EFA will oppose the text in the upcoming vote on Monday.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled IP blocking illegal only last year, arguing that the wholesale blocking of access to an entire website was an extreme measure comparable to banning a newspaper or television station (CASE OF VLADIMIR KHARITONOV v. RUSSIA).

[1] Text of the Amendments: https://www.patrick-breyer.de/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021.03.31_2nd-draft-voting-list_Amendments_Sport-events-organisers.docx


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  • Jozsi

    The European Parliament president David Sassoli has invited MEPs to reflect on the institution s future, opening a broad debate about the best way forward after the Covid-19 pandemic. What will the post-Covid-19 parliament be like?

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