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Sleepwalking Toward a Control Society? Ten Must-Know Trends



9. The role of the controller transfers to several actors

There is an increasing government push for Internet intermediaries, to take a role of controller by investigating, monitoring and sanctioning users. Uses become blocked, logged, monitored, restricted and subjected to sanctions imposed by the intermediaries, who fear legal liability for the actions of their clients. This trend is evident in USA and Europe. (EDRI 2011)

Copyright legislation is among the reasons which are used to set in force these obligations. Direct obligations have been suggested e.g. in ACTA-agreement, French HADOPI law and the UK Digital Economy Act, which require or imply interference with consumers' personal data, blocking of online resources and co-operation with the implementation of sanctions (ACTA, Digital Economy Act, EDRI 2011, Hadopi Law). As such, these arrangements extend forms of surveillance and censorship. They focus on monitoring of all users' data by an excuse of copyright, and at the same time override the borders of users' rights on informational privacy. If these practices become permanent, they may establish structures of control which can be later used for other purposes - and extend the scale of data surveillance and censorship.

Copyright legislations and international agreements have assigned new standards and obligations to organizations which act as intermediaries of networked information to involve in controlling and monitoring of users. These arrangements may also concern parties like hotels, cafes, universities and libraries. (Hamilton & Moon, 2012)

Sanctions of copyright violations have strengthened. E.g. Digital Economy Act in the UK, and the Hadopi law in France apply the so-called three-strike principle (Hadopi Law, Digital Economy Act). If a young member of a family violates the law three times, the access to Internet can be denied from the whole family. If a library offenses the Act three times, it may be disconnected from the Internet. Non-governmental organizations and intermediary organizations, such as libraries, have taken acts to oppose recent decisions to monitor and control citizens' use of information (e.g. in the context of the Digital Economy Act in the UK, and the ACTA-agreement) (Du Preez, 2011, IFLA 2011, IFLA & EBLIDA 2012).