[TelecomTV] Commission says 'no': Sarko given out over 3 strikes
The European Commission has turned down French President Sarkozy's request that it reject the last minute Amendment 138 to the Telecoms Package, introduced and passed at the end of last month by the plenary session of the European Parliament to protect European citizens from arbitrary Internet disconnection, and supported by TelecomTV and digital and citizens' rights groups throughout Europe.
Sarkozy's government is also part way through introducing a raft of Internet-clamping measures in France and Amendment 138 might prove a roadblock to that process by bolstering any legal challenges sure to mounted by digital rights and citizens' groups there. Amendment 138 requires telecoms regulators to apply the principle 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 where the ruling may be subsequent." In effect, any disconnection has to have judicial authority - as an ISP, you can't just go cutting users off willy-nilly. In the end the amendment was passed in an open vote with a large majority of 573 votes in favour to 74 votes against, a fact acknowledged by the Commission as a strong democratic mandate to have it stand. So digital rights advocates can claim a small victory in a long, hard fight. Continues after advertisement. Without amending the thrust of the telecom package through 138, national governments would have been more able to oversee the establishment of extra-judicial (kangaroo court) procedures to disconnect users suspected of downloading copyright material.
Those supporting repressive measures in the European Parliament's Telecoms Package had long argued that they were nothing to do with copyright and three strikes, but were in fact all about chasing down paedophiles and terrorists. In fact the opponents of the measures had got it all wrong, they claimed to television reporters and in newspaper articles, and it was all a fuss about nothing. Now Sarkozy's letter to the commission has blown that argument right out of the water.