Telecom Package in second reading – dangerous amendments

By EDRi · March 25, 2009

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Deutsch: [Das Telekompaket in der zweiten Lesung – gefährliche Zusätze |]

Several alarming amendments to the Telecom Package second reading in the
European Parliament are to be voted on 31 March 2009 by ITRE/IMCO committee.
The amendments are meant to give additional control to the entertainment
industry, telecoms and IT security companies over the Internet.

An agreement on several delicate issues of the telecom package is sought in
a trialogue between the European Parliament, the European Council and
the European Commission to agree on a resolution regarding politically
sensitive and technically difficult aspects of the Telecoms Package.
Although the European Parliament is supposed to represent the interests and
rights of the users, it seems it is trying to make compromises in agreeing
upon the limitations of the users’ rights pushed by the UK and France in the

One of the most controversial issues is that of the three-strikes strongly
and continuously pushed by France in the EU Council .
Although most of the dispositions introducing the graduate response system
were rejected in first reading of the Telecom Package, there are still some
alarming ones persisting. France is trying hard to get rid of Amendment 138
which seeks to protect users’ rights against the three-strikes sanctions and
which, until now, has stopped the EU from applying the three-strikes policy.
Also, some new amendments reintroduce the notion of lawful content, which
will impose the obligation on ISPs to monitor content going through their

The UK government is pushing for the “wikipedia amendments” (so-called
because one of them has been created by cutting and pasting a text out of
the wikipedia) in order to allow ISPs to make limited content offers. The UK
amendments eliminate the text that gives users rights to access and
distribute content, services and applications, replacing it with a text that
says “there should be transparency of conditions under which services are
provided, including information on the conditions to and/or use of
applications and services, and of any traffic management policies .”

“In a context where markets like mobile telecommunication or entertainment
industries, merging with
telecommunication operators, are controlled by oligopolies, relying on the
only information of the consumer leaves the consumer without any choice.
Competition law would be the only remedy, and they proved to be totally
inefficient against Microsoft or mobile operators cartels. Therefore, it is
essential to define a positive guarantee of access to services without
discrimination,” stated Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du

Also a very dangerous amendment to the ePrivacy directive is introduced
by the UK, allowing the telecommunications industry to collect a potentially
unlimited amount of users’ sensitive and confidential communications data
including telephone and e-mail contacts, geographic position of mobile
phones and websites visited on the Internet.

As a result of the amendments pushed by the AT&T industry, network
discrimination practices could be included by the use of Traffic Management
Systems, leading to a discriminative way in which users can access content,
services and applications, therefore giving complete control of the network
to the operators who will be able to decide who and what can access. The
pretext for this movement is the necessity of preventing a collapse of the
network due to congestion and of a diversified range of offers by the
operators. “Such practices would discourage investment in network capacity
as well as competition and innovation, and could pose serious threats to
freedom of speech” states La Quadrature du Net which has published an
analysis of the tabled amendments and recommendations for the votes to be
taken by ITRE/IMCO committee.

La Quadrature du Net believes the time left before the vote in the ITRE/IMCO
committee must be used to urge MEPs from IMCO and ITRE to protect the
citizens’ freedoms by voting against all amendments allowing net
discrimination, three strikes schemes and privacy breaches. “The second
reading on the Telecoms Package means a second round of intense lobbying,
where corporate interests try to go back on citizen’s basic freedom in order
to gain more control over the network. However, the European Parliament has
a unique chance of showing citizens its commitment into protecting freedom
and equity, since it is only 3 months until the European elections, in June”
states the group.

BEUC, the European Consumers’ Organisation, also issued a press release on
18 March appealing for the net neutrality of the Internet. “Over the coming
days, the European Parliament, Commission and the Council are holding
informal trialogue discussions on the third telecom package. We urge them to
keep the principle of “net neutrality” in the final text, ensuring that
consumers will still have access to an open Internet. Consumers should be
able to choose their own content, application and services online – this
right needs to be enforced by national telecom regulators”.

The next key dates after the vote by ITRE/IMCO committee are 15 April 2009,
the deadline for plenary amendments, and 22
April 2009 – the date estimated for the EP plenary vote.

Lion of France on the attack against Amendment 138 (22.03.2009)

Telecoms Package 2nd Reading ITRE IMCO Amendments–_2

UK government pushes for discriminated Internet (7.03.2009)

EU citizens: Save Internet from being turned into a TV! (22.03.2009)

UK Proposed Amendments

How the EU is bargaining away the Internet (23.03.2009)

Unblock the Internet for consumers: BEUC’s fight for net neutrality

EDRI-gram: Open letter to the European Parliament – Telecom Package