EU court ruled against web filters to block file sharing
European Court of Justice found in its recent decision in case C‑70/10 that EU law precludes governments or courts from requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to install filters aimed at preventing people from illegally downloading music and other files.
According to court, the protection of the fundamental right to property, which includes the rights linked to intellectual property, must be balanced against the protection of other fundamental rights.
Requirement for the ISPs to install a filtering system for all electronic communications would be too expensive for the relevant companies, infringing their freedom to conduct a business. As to the content of the transmission, then the system might not adequately distinguish unlawful content and lawful content, especially as it may depend on the application of statutory exceptions to copyright which vary from one Member State to another. Therefore, such web filters could lead to the blocking of lawful communications. In addition to that, the IP addresses of users are protected personal data because they allow those users to be precisely identified.
Overall the court found that the requirement to install such general filtering system would not respect the requirement that a fair balance must be struck between the right to intellectual property, on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information, on the other.