Anti-Piracy Program Accused of Violating Citizens’ Fundamental Rights


Anti-Piracy Program Accused of Violating Citizens’ Fundamental Rights

Since 2010, France has monitored and stored data on millions of internet users as part of anti-piracy scheme featuring warning letters, fines, and ISP disconnections. Europe’s highest court will soon decide whether the program is permissible under EU law. Digital rights groups insist that as a general surveillance and data retention scheme, it violates fundamental rights.

Pirate KeyWhen the French government formed a new anti-piracy agency called Hadopi, the mission was to significantly disrupt BitTorrent and similar peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

Hadopi was a pioneer of the so-called “graduated response” scheme which consists of monitoring a file-sharer’s internet activities and following up with a warning notice to deter their behavior. Any future incidents attract escalating responses including fines and internet disconnections. Between 2010 and 2020, Hadopi issued 12.7 million warning notices at a cost to French taxpayers of 82 million euros.

The program’s effect on overall piracy rates remains up for debate but according to French internet rights groups, Hadopi doesn’t just take citizens’ money. When it monitors citizens’ internet activities, retains huge amounts of data, and then links identities to IP addresses to prevent behavior that isn’t a “serious crime,” Hadopi violates fundamental rights.

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