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Piracy Shield: AGCOM Fines ISP Assoc. For ‘Obstructing Supervisory Activities’

By , in AGCOM Anti-Piracy assoprovider isp Piracy Shield Site Blocking , at April 6, 2024

From the moment Italian authorities announced they would build the most ambitious anti-piracy blocking system ever seen, it was clear that only controversy lay ahead. All that remained to be seen was when, at what scale, and how any chaos would be managed.

Predictably, overblocking was an immediate problem, with blunders against Zenlayer and Cloudflare sounding alarm bells early on.

Arguably of greater concern was the dramatic shift in behavior displayed by telecoms regulator AGCOM and the sports rightsholders set to benefit most from the system. Constant media appearances that bemoaned piracy and boasted the prowess of the incoming Piracy Shield system leading up to its launch, gave way to almost complete radio silence when everything began to go south.

From that low point, further deterioration ensued. Attacks on the press for telling the truth, public statements that everything was running to plan, and a refusal to commit to a level of transparency that would allow those wrongfully affected to exercise their right to complain. More recently AGCOM has been rejecting legitimate complaints concerning Cloudflare overblocking; in some cases the reasons for rejection are directly linked to AGCOM’s own failure to publish relevant information.

ASSOProvider’s Stand and Subsequent Reward

ASSOProvider is an association representing the interests of more than 200 small to medium-sized companies and ISPs in the Italian internet and telecoms sector. It’s perhaps the most vocal critic of Piracy Shield and the law that supports it, including the requirement that ISPs implement systems and commit workers to the program at their own expense.

That led to ASSOProvider mounting a legal challenge in 2023, one that failed in its bid to prevent Piracy Shield getting off the ground.

When the specter of overblocking raised its head in February, ASSOProvider called on AGCOM to grant access to information that might help to explain why it was allowed to happen. Information requested included domains and IP addresses blocked, reports and documents received from rightsholders, plus copies of the blocking tickets filed on the days when overblocking occurred.

While no communication appears to have been received from the communications regulator on that topic, AGCOM has managed to find time to fine ASSOProvider for obstructing AGCOM’s supervisory activities.

More Piracy Shield Controversy

The news that AGCOM has sanctioned ASSOProvider first appeared on the ISP association’s website.

“Assoprovider, which actively participated in the working group set up by the Authority to combat illegal activities, for as long as it was allowed to participate, requested clarification from the Authority as to why, without any valid reason, it should provide a list of Italian ISPs [members of ASSOProvider] at a certain point,” the announcement reads.

“However, these data are already in AGCOM’s possession, as it manages the public communications registry (ROC), and, as stated in its memorandum defending against [ASSOProvider’s legal challenge], it knows, just like everyone else, the identification details of all network operators and communication services.”

Life Suddenly and Coincidentally Becomes More Difficult

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Fulvio Sarzana di S.Ippolito, lawyer and legal consultant of ASSOProvider, says the fine “coincidentally” arrived after ASSOProvider appealed against the recent decision of the local court and requested documents related to Piracy Shield.

“ASSOProvider is an Association and not an operator [ISP], and it is not clear what supervision can be done and what obstacle it may have posed by exercising the constitutional rights to appeal to the Court and to submit a FOIA,” Sarzana says.

“AGCOM without any reason requested the list of Associates [ISPs] but the data of all the Italian operators are in its possession, as AGCOM itself clarified in its briefs before the Regional Administrative Court. Furthermore, AGCOM itself sent a notice to all Italian providers asking them to participate in the working table.”

Fine of 1,032 Euros Triggers New Resolve

Exactly how much ASSOProvider has been fined isn’t revealed in its announcement, but Sarzana confirms a figure of 1,032 euros. Not a huge amount in the bigger picture but significant enough to introduce yet another irritant into the Piracy Shield mix and by targeting its most vocal critic, enough to lead some to conclude that a message has been sent.

Even if that was the case, ASSOProvider says it won’t back down. Sarzana says the association will challenge the fine in all courts and “will not retreat an inch in fighting injustices and for legality.”

Indeed, ASSOProvider seems more motivated than ever.

“For almost twenty-five years, ASSOProvider has always been at the forefront in the defense of civil rights,” says ASSOProvider President Giovanbattista Frontera.

“This time too we will fight for the affirmation of constitutional rights and for the recognition of citizens’ right to a fair defense. We won’t stop, and you won’t stop us.”

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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