Is cutting off a person’s internet a breach of their human rights?

9 April 2010 by

The Law Society of Scotland have sounded the alarm in relation to new Government powers to block an individual’s internet access, and argue that this is likely to amount to a breach of their Human Rights.

The Digital Economy Bill, which has now passed through Parliament and has royal assent, has attracted wide attention in the past few days for a number of reasons. Many have been concerned at the apparent lack of debate in relation to the wide-ranging Bill.

However, a pressing concern amongst internet users has been the proposed new powers for the Government to block an individual’s internet access as a punishment for internet piracy.

The Law Society of Scotland consider that blocking an individual’s internet access would be breach their human rights. They are concerned in particular with the lack of a requirement for a court order before access is cut off, which would amount to a breach of Article 6 of the European Convention. Jim McLean, convener of the Society’s Intellectual Property Committee says:

” If the Bill were passed as it stands, it would mean that a subscriber’s internet access could be limited or even cut off on the grounds of an alleged infringement without any court having made an order against that subscriber.

“This in our view raises serious concerns with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.

“Following a Decision of the Conseil Constitutionnel, in France last summer, similar legislation (‘Hadopi’ *) proposed there was modified to impose a requirement for a court order in cases affecting subscribers. That decision was based on the French Constitution rather than the European Convention on Human Rights. But the issues about due legal process are substantially similar.

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