Malcolm Harbour

Telecoms Package: A Missed Opportunity for Citizen's Rights

Paris, November 24th, 2009 - There is no reason to celebrate the general outcome of the Telecoms Package. The final text voted today is far from satisfactory: while it includes some consumer protections, they fall short of compensating for the various loopholes and threats to fundamental rights contained in the rest of the text.

Europe only goes half-way in protecting Internet rights.

Brussels, November 5th, 2009 - An agreement has been reached on the Telecoms Package. The new text1 aimed at protecting Internet access includes positive elements such as a reference to the right to a "prior fair and impartial procedure" as well as the presumption of innocence. It also contains ambiguous language and potential loopholes. This rather unambitious provision will now be up for interpretation, and it remains to be seen whether it will invalidate Net access restrictions such as "three strikes" policies.

Will the EP turns its back on Internet rights?

Brussels, November 4th 2009 - On the eve of a crucial conciliation meeting that will decide on the fate of the "Telecoms Package", the European Parliament must decide whether it will keep its promise to protect citizens rights online. Will the European Parliament send a dangerous message to Member States by assenting to extrajudicial restrictions of Internet access? Should fundamental rights be sacrificed in an attempt to finish Telecoms Package at any cost?

Net Freedoms in Europe: Recapitulating the capitulation

The European Parliament delegation led by Catherine Trautmann recently gave up on protecting EU citizens against arbitrary restrictions of their Internet access. In order to reach an agreement and avoid a clash with Member States, the Parliament retracted its support to the core element of notorious "amendment 138" : prior judicial decision before restrictions to access and usage of the Internet. This protection of citizens' fundamental rights against arbitrary restrictions of their Internet access came a long way. Here is a little restrospective on the "stations of the cross" of amendement 138.

(See also the rewording of amendment 138, preserving its core principles while adressing legal uncertainty, that was transmitted to MEPs last week)

Will the European Parliament take its last chance to save citizens' rights?

Brussels, Sept 30th - The European Parliament decided on Sept. 28th that it would not attempt to fix the provisions endangering Net neutrality in the "Telecoms Package"1. Only "amendment 138"2, which protects citizens against restriction of their fundamental rights, will be negotiated during the conciliation procedure3 that is just about to start. In the upcoming meetings, either the rapporteur Trautmann will have the courage to stand in order to defend people's rights to access the Net, or the Parliament will just bow before the Council and give up European citizens' freedoms.

Net Neutrality: EU must neither give up competitiveness nor freedoms.

Paris, September 24th - La Quadrature du Net sent a letter to the French ministers in charge of the Telecoms Package1 to ask them to protect Net neutrality in the European Union, as they enter into final negotiations on this major reform. At a time when the United States are moving towards enforcing a principle that is crucial for competition, innovation and citizen freedoms, Europe cannot suffer an anti-Net neutrality legislation. La Quadrature publishes a complete dossier2, along with a 2-pager memo3 on the topic and invites all European citizens to contact their representatives in the Council4, as well as the 27 MEPs who will sit in the conciliation committee5.

Why would EU sacrifice Internet Freedoms?

Updated on Sept 21st: The list of MEPs that will be part of the Parliament delegation in the conciliation committee is now official.

Paris, September 21th 2009 - The conciliation of the EU "Telecoms Package"1 will begin in a few days. 27 Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the executive branches of the 27 Member States will negotiate the text in closed-doors meetings. The outcome of these discussions will shape the future of Internet users' freedoms in Europe. EU citizens must ask their representatives to adopt firm positions to protect their citizens' fundamental rights and defend Net neutrality2.

We Must Protect Net Neutrality in Europe! - Open letter to the European Parliament

Paris, September 16th 2009 - We Must Protect Net Neutrality1 in Europe! Organizations from all around Europe share their concern of seeing Net Neutrality being sacrificed during the conciliation procedure of the directives of the EU Telecoms Package. They sent this letter to the Members of the European Parliament, urging them to take decisive action in order to guarantee a free, open and innovative Internet, and to safeguard the fundamental freedoms of European citizens.

Organizations can sign this letter using the form below.

  • 1. See our work-in-progress guide about Net Neutrality: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/net_neutrality

Telecoms Package: preparation for a third reading

updated: Sept 21st.The list of MEPs that will be part of the EP delegation conciliation committee is now official.
updated: Sept 17th.European directives of the "Telecoms Package" are advancing through the codecision process of the EU. As soon as the Council of the EU formally rejects any amendment voted by the European Parliament in second reading1, the Telecoms Package will enter the conciliation procedure. In this closed negotiation (between 27 representatives of the Council of the EU and 27 representatives of the European Parliament), the fate of an open, free and neutral Internet in the EU will be decided. Here is a quick guide to understanding this procedure, and participating now to urge open-minded and progressive MEPs to take part in the conciliation committee (There are only a few days left as the decision are already taking place.).

  • 1. This formal rejection of the European Parliament's 2nd reading amendments by the Council triggers the countdown to the conciliation phase. In practice, negotiations could start as soon as the composition of the conciliation committee is known.

It is crucial to save Net Neutrality!

"Net neutrality". This obscure yet simple concept is the root of the development of the Internet as we know it. In the digital environment, it is the guarantee of competition, innovation, and fundamental freedoms. Until now, net neutrality has been the rule, both for technical and economical reasons. However, it is now under the threat of network operators1 who see business opportunities in discriminating information flowing through their networks. It is crucial to seize the opportunity of the third reading of the "Telecoms Package" directives to take strong measures aimed at protecting a free, open and innovative Internet within the European Union.

Amendment 138/46 adopted again. Internet is a fundamental right in Europe.

Strasbourg, May 6 2009 − The debates on the Telecoms Package, thanks to a remarkable citizen mobilization, led to an extremely strong recognition of the access to internet as a fundamental right with the re-adoption of amendment 138/46 in second reading by a qualified majority. It is the final blow against three-strike laws such as Nicolas Sarkozy's HADOPI bill, which are explicitely banned. The European Parliament nevertheless adopted a soft compromise on issues of network equity: no strong protection against “net discrimination” was adopted.

URGENT: Ask MEPs to adopt Citizens' Rights Amendments on May the 6th.

ALERT: last minute trick to prevent European Parliament to vote on amendment 138/46 by changing the order of votes

A dedicated campaign page regarding the issue below has been put on the wiki,
including arguments, counter-arguments, and advice on how to contact MEPs.

Paris, May 4 2009 - Threats to citizens' basic rights and freedoms and to the neutrality of Internet could be voted without any safeguard in the EU legislation regarding electronic communication networks (Telecoms Package). EU citizens have two days to call all Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to ask them to vote for the “Citizens' Rights Amendments”, in the second reading of the Telecoms Package. These amendments include all the safeguards that were removed in the “compromise amendments”, as well as provisions protecting against “net discrimination” practices and filtering of content.

Telecoms Package: When rapporteurs betray EU citizens.

On both parts of the Telecoms Package, rapported by Malcolm Harbour (IMCO report) and Catherine Trautmann (ITRE report), agreements have been found with the Council of the EU to destroy or neutralize major protections of the citizens against graduated response, "net discrimination" and filtering of content on the Internet. There is little time left, but the Parliament has a last chance with the plenary vote on May 6th to reaffirm its commitment to protecting EU citizens.

Council of EU imposing Net Discrimination in Europe

UPDATED: with 28.4.2009 trialogue document from the Parliament and Council's 27.04.2009 propositions, where all protections are completely weakened.

Paris, 28 April 2008 - Negotiations are still going on in secret among the European Parliament, the EU Council, and the Commission on the directives of the Telecoms Package. The crucial question of “net discrimination” is being intensely and alarmingly reworked right now in the Universal Service directive, whose rapporteur is Malcolm Harbour (EPP/ED - UK). The Council is currently neutralizing every provision protecting citizens' rights. The Parliament must react.

EU citizens: Save Internet from being turned into a TV!

Paris, Mar. 23rd 2009 - Harmful amendments to Telecoms Package 2nd reading may be voted on March 31st in IMCO and ITRE committees. They all have in common to give extra powers to established industries (telecoms, entertainment, IT security) starving for control over the Internet. “Net discrimination” amendments could allow operators to discriminate against types of content or services, or to give preferential access to certain services whilst blocking others. Such limitations to the websites subscribers can visit, and to services and applications they can use would mean the end of an open Internet as we know it. These amendemnents would have dreadful consequences for innovation on the network as well for citizen's Freedoms. European citizens must urge MEPs from IMCO and ITRE to protect their freedoms by voting for safeguarding amendments and rejecting all amendments allowing net discrimination, “three strikes” schemes and privacy breaches.

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