EFFI: Finnish legislative committee about to grant police rights to the content industry

Helsinki 2005-04-18
Electronic Frontier Finland – EFFI ry

Electronic Frontier Finland ry (EFFI) is shocked by the statement given by the parliament legislative committee regarding revision of the Finnish copyright law. The committee has acceded to the demands of the entertainment industry and proposes to grant them rights to obtain a user’s identity when copyright violations are suspected to occur. As if this wasn’t enough, it is also proposed that the Internet connections of violating parties could be disconnected if “the economic damage caused by the actions of the user became notable”.

This means that a copyright holder could get a court order that would force an ISP to disconnect a client and divulge his identity if there’s a suspicion of copyright violation without a full trial. EFFI believes that such a clause constitutes a brutal violation of citizens’ rights.

The chairman of EFFI, Ville Oksanen, states: “The statement was otherwise quite good. However, an addition of this magnitude should never be considered this late in the legislative process. At the very least, representatives of the rest of the stakeholders should be consulted!”

When a person’s Internet connection is disconnected by his ISP, it also disrupts the activities of everyone else using that same connection, eg. e-mail and online banking. EFFI feels that such wide-reaching breaches of an individual’s rights should also be considered by the constitutional committee.

“In addition to all this, the method of revision is totally wrong. The same clauses should apply to other violations as well, not merely copyright. The ‘right’ place for such clauses would be in the law regarding privacy in electronic communication. However, the parliament considered such an action a year ago unnecessary,” Ville Oksanen adds.

“The data should only be divulged during a police investigation in accordance with current legislation and even then it should never be given to involved parties”, Kai Puolamäki, board member of EFFI, considers. He continues: “Anyone could demand the disclosure of confidential telecommunication logs or even the disconnection of a client, if he were convincing enough. This law would make such an action possible. For example, the Church of Scientology has already demanded that ISPs divulge the identities of the cult’s critics under similar legislation already in effect in the United States.”

The proposed change in legislation was initiated by the recent and failed plead by record companies to disconnect a user of KaZaA to the Helsinki District Court. The record industry was unable to show that the benefit from such a decision would be greater than the damage caused to the user.

Puolamäki concludes: “The arguments of the content industry did not satisfy the district court. Now, in addition to filing a complaint to the court of appeal, the industry’s apparently also filed a *planned* complaint to the parliament.”

More Information:

Ville Oksanen
Chairman, Electronic Frontier Finland ry
+358 40 5368583

Electronic Frontier Finland – EFFI ry was founded in 2001 to defend active users and citizens of the Finnish society in the electronic frontier. EFFI influences legislative proposals concerning e.g. personal privacy, freedom of speech and fair use in copyright law. We make statements, press releases and participate actively in actual public policy and legal discussions. EFFI also works in close cooperation with organizations sharing the same goals and values in the Europe, United States and elsewhere. EFFI is a founding member of the European Digital Rights and a member of Global Internet Liberty Campaign. More information from EFFI’s home pages: http://www.effi.org/