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Amendment 138: Why does Trautmann persevere in giving up?

Strasburg, October 20th, 2009 – Rapporteur on the Telecoms Package, Catherine Trautmann will try once again to push a replacement for amendment 138. Her proposal replaces the effective protection of freedom of expression thanks to a prior judicial decision before three-strike types of sanctions can take place by "the right to an effective and timely judicial review". But can the right to a fair trial be a reality for someone who is deprived of the access to the Internet, the essential means of expression and communication in todays' world ?

During this afternoon's conciliation meeting1, Catherine Trautmann will present a proposal2 that renounces to impose a prior ruling by a judge for any restriction to Internet access. The proposal3 abandons the core principle of citizens protection proclaimed by amendment 1384 voted twice by 88% of the Parliament.

Last week, the Parliament asked the Council of the EU to explain what were its legal arguments against the original amendment 138. The Council never replied precisely about the wording, and only mentioned vague general principles. On the other hand, Catherine Trautmann had between her hands La Quadrature's memo5 explaining why the previous proposal by the Commission, backed by the Council,6 was unacceptable. She was also transmitted a rewording proposal that addresses all the general complains of the original amendment 1387. Yet, it seems that Catherine Trautmann has chosen to bow to the the Council by removing the safeguards for citizens' freedoms from the Telecoms Package, thus risking to open the door to "three strikes" policies in Europe.

Member States have yet to respond to the European Parliament's request to explain why exactly they oppose amendment 138. But instead of insisting on getting these explanations and trying uphold the principles laid down by amendment 138 while improving its wording, Catherine Trautmann chooses to give up on the protection of European citizens. It only means one thing: that the Council of the EU is opposed to the defense of freedoms that was voted twice by 88% of the only democratically elected body in Europe. We will see whether the Parliament agrees with the Council against citizens' interest or protects their right to access the Internet without abusive restrictions such as 'three strikes' policies., states Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. meeting of the European Parliament delegation of the Telecoms Package conciliation committee
  • 2. See her proposal inserted in article 1.3.a: http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Trautmann_Flawed_Proposal_20091020
  • 3. The proposal is inserted into the general principles (art.1.3) of the directive instead of giving an effective tool for regulation authorities
  • 4. Amendment 138 states that "(...) no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened in which case the ruling may be subsequent."
  • 5. Read the memo: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/improving-amendment-138-while-preserving-its-core-principles
  • 6. See: http://www.laquadrature.net/en/telecoms-package-does-the-council-of-eu-hate-freedom
  • 7. The rewording safeguards the core of amendment 138: "applying the principle that restrictions to the access and usage of the Internet by end-users, in that they prevent the practical exercice of freedom of expression and communication and in order to ensure the proportionality of any such restriction, may only be imposed subsequentely to a decision by the judicial authorities, in accordance with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms."