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A map to freedom: the Internet in Europe

IP addresses collected without a judge's supervision, ineffective filtering, and many other issues will not be addressed by the e-G8. We created an interactive map to give an idea of the true state of the Internet in Europe.

by Andréa Fradin et Ophélia Noor On May 25, 2011

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Collection of IP addresses under a judge’s supervision, ineffective means of filtering, “friends” of copyright, the new updates on the ACTA – these are just a few issues which are not being highlighted at the holy e-mass currently taking place in Paris. Due to the lack of comprehensiveness, OWNI is ‘augmenting’ the networks that were compiled by Nicolas Sarkozy, Publicis, and web moguls present at the e-G8. Unlike the former group, our map of the Internet in Europe puts the user at the center of attention.

The Internet report for 27 EU countries (including Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland) was put under a microscope and scrutinized. Six major points of interest were chosen:

  • Protection of intellectual property: a review on preventative measures such as the three strikes sanctions, the type of targeting (sites or visiting offenders?), establishment of warning or online sanctions, conditions for collection of IP addresses, options to appeal in court, etc.
  • Mobile Internet: Can European users access the Internet in its entirety, or have some networks cut out certain applications and services (such as Skype).
  • Network filtering: Countries which have implemented or rejected blocking or filtering of certain sites (some under the pretext of fighting child pornography). Opacity and control over the “black list” which categorizes reprehensible sites was also noted.
  • Adhesion to the ACTA: Based on the report from Quadrature du Net which ranked each country according to the votes of each European MP concerning each resolution of the ACTA. A coefficient was given to each of these resolutions, along with a score based on each member’s vote. The scores ranged from 0 to 100. We ranked countries on 3 levels: Strong support, neutral, and strong rejection.
  • A surveillance list called “301”: Established by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), it identifies countries which refuse to implement “adequate and effective” protections for intellectual property. Notably, it permits the USA to pressure its trading partners in the presence of WTO bodies. The 301 list is published every year in April, and based on the Trade Act of 1974. It is a comprehensive investigation on the state of intellectual property in the world along with laws that protect the degree of its application. It is categorized by 4 classifications, including the 301 Priority Watch List, and the 301 Watch List. No EU country is on the priority watch list, but 10 countries were listed on the 301 watch list sometime during the last 5 years. 9 out of these 10 selected countries  had incidences related to intellectual properties on the Internet: Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, and Norway.

The range of criteria is not exhaustive and is called on to expand – thanks to your contribution. It is for this reason that we’ll make available the table that serves as a foundation for this map.

By examining these six points, we can see an overarching vantage point from each different country that reflects a singular perception on networks. We attempted to classify them according to the emphasis on the user given the “protection measures” that were in place. For each criteria, we sought to determine to what extent this establishment was framed by actors against independent powers. To what extent did it take into account the rights of users: the ability to access an Internet that is neutral, open, and exists in its entirety – the freedom to enjoy this serendipity without tracing and without archiving. Is the collection of IP addresses controlled by a judge as part of the fight against illegal downloading? For each country, how many years have they decided to transpose the Directive on Conservation of Data and for how long will the information be retained? Have the states taken into account doubts raised concerning the effectiveness of their filtering system?

At the end of the day, France ranks below other European countries: The incongruity of the Hadopi Internet machine which didn’t even bother going through the court system to collect IP addresses, the unfortunate episode of the Loppsi 2 Law which permitted filtering sites by evicting judicial authorities (on the grounds for fighting child pornography), preservation of data pushing a year, and a nonexistent mobile Internet. According to Reporters Without Borders’ “Enemies of the Internet” report, many of these criteria justifies France’s placement as “under surveillance.”

Collecting information was not always completely comprehensive, especially in certain EU countries. It was facilitated by the work and support of many civic initiatives, such as Digital Right WatchEDRIGlobal VoicesLa Quadrature du NetOpenNet Initiative, different European Pirate PartiesPrivacy InternationalRSF and Vasistas. To uphold our integrity and accuracy, we omitted countries which we lacked sufficient information – yet through additional contacts and research we hope to modify our findings.

Map created by designer Marion Boucharlat and developer James Lafa.

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