Privates involvement in law enforcement activities: a preliminary assessment of the emerging role of Internet Services Providers under EU law

The image of Internet as a tool providing easier, maybe even more democratic, access to the freedom of expression has by now proved to be too idyllic. Indeed, Internet has also shown is face as a vehicle, if not a catalyst, of conducts that impinge on individuals’ rights no less seriously than off-line conducts. Online hate speech is a case in point. At the same time, another distinctive feature of the Internet has consolidated, notably the difficulty (luckily/unluckily) for the public authorities to get full control of it. This awareness led governments, and also international organizations such as the EU, to establish some form of cooperation with the Internet Services Providers, involving them in typical law enforcement activities. Assuming a EU law perspective, the paper aims at reconstructing the emerging role of ISP and its impact on the protection of fundamental rights of individuals affected by their quasi-public activity.