European media industry proposes identity screening to EU, for online content domain registrants

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One of the hallmarks of pirate streaming sites is that they are often registered by entities that can’t be identified or traced.

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The European Commission is currently in the process of updating its e-Commerce Directive of 2000, the legal framework for digital services in the EU, via the Digital Service Act.

As written, the pending Act is primarily about e-commerce and lacks specifics about sites that provide online media services. Also, while some individual companies and organizations do engage in identity verification, there is no common or universal practice.

Input from the Media industry

A public comment period for this Act was open through September.  A large group of rights holders submitted letter to the European Commission, asking them to expand identity verification requirements beyond online marketplaces, to include online media services; in the form of “Know Your Business Customer” (KYBC) priniciples. KYBC is similar in nature to “Know Your Customer” guidelines in financial services that are intended to reduce the risk of money laundering.

Read the letter to the EC

Signatories include: BREIN, British Assn for Screen Entertainment, Digital Entertainment Group, European VOD Coalition, FAPAV, Independent Film & Television Alliance, Motion Picture Association, Sports Rights Owners Coalition (57 total).

Input from Denmark

Rights Alliance further writes about the practices of DK Hostmaster, the administrator of .dk domains, which runs identity verification checks as part of the registration process.  When buying a .dk domain the buyer must be able to verify itself.

Why it matters

It’s hard to say how such a system would actually work in practice.

Under ICANN guidelines, entities or individuals that want to register and operate a Web site must do so through a recognized domain registrar.  However, there are no rules specifying ID validation.  Anyone can register a domain, as long as the domain name is available, business and technical contact information are provided, and a billing relationship can be set up.

Also, while KYBC is well intentioned, the expense of identity checks by certified third parties could place a disproportional financial burden on smaller legitimate media sites.

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