The European Parliament voted the Telecoms Package

By EDRi · October 8, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The Package of rules governing the Internet and telecoms sectors proposed by
the European Commission in view of supporting competition and providing
clearer information and a wider range of services to consumers was approved
by the European Parliament on 24 September 2008, in the first reading. The
measures that would have allowed a control on Internet users were rejected.

The package including four legislative proposals was proposed on 13 November
2007 and had in view the establishment of a new EU telecoms authority, the
introduction of functional separation in order to boost competition, a
review of radio-spectrum management and a range of consumer protection

Following a strong pressure from the consumers, privacy groups and telecoms
industry, the MEPs rejected the idea that ISPs should filter all downloads
and punish the infringers of anti-piracy rules, being thus transformed into
a sort of online police.

The key amendments in this respect were Amendment 166 to the Harbour
report and Amendment 138 to the Trautmann report, both adopted by the EP.
“They state that users’ access may not be restricted in any
way that infringes their fundamental rights, and (166) that any
sanctions should be proportionate and (138) require a court order.
They both reinforce the principle established on April 9th in the Bono
report, that the Parliament is against cutting off people’s Internet
access as a sanction for copyright infringement. Cutting off Internet
access was not explicitly in the Telecoms Package, but it did open the door
to 3-strikes. These amendments close that door.” as Monica Horten correctly
points out.

The EP decided that personal data processing should not require the user’s
prior consent. Also, there was no clear decision on the issue of whether IP
addresses should be considered as personal data.

However, the EP approved the application of a prior consent clause to
software such as cookies, which are installed in the users’ computers and
which provide information on their behaviour to the companies having created
them, such as search engines. Another amendment requires the telecom
companies to inform the national telecom regulators if they suffered serious
data security breaches, that might affect their users’ privacy.

The Parliament’s vote was welcomed by most interested parties being
considered as a good step in the direction of privacy, the protection of
personal data, and principles of proportionality and separation of powers.

The European consumers organisation, BEUC stated: “Today MEPs voted to
reinforce consumer rights and competition in telecoms markets across Europe.
We hope the Council will follow the same line towards improving and
facilitating consumers’ daily lives. Many consumers still suffer from
problems with their telecom providers: from complicated information to very
long-term contracts, not to mention difficulties in switching. Concretely,
thanks to today’s move, consumers could benefit from more transparent
information about tariffs and conditions of contracts.”

La Quadrature du Net, the group of citizens acting for individual rights and
freedoms and supported by French as well as international NGOs, wanted to
thank “all MEPs who have worked in this direction, and all citizens who
mobilized en masse to alert their delegates on these issues. We’d like to
thank particularly the MEPs who have been able to reconsider their positions
as they became aware of the risks to the rights and freedoms of their
fellow-citizens.” However, the body still warns on some issues of concern
particularly that of the danger that the adopted Amendment 138 may be
withdrawn. Amendment 138 states that no restriction on the rights and
freedoms of end users can be taken without prior decision of the judicial
authority, only in cases when public safety is concerned.

There is strong support for the adoption of the telecoms package by the end
of the mandate of the present Parliament, at the middle of 2009. The next
step in this issue will be the next Telecoms Council which is planned for
the end of November.

Parliament backs major telecoms, Internet overhaul (25.09.2008)

MEPs back altered telecoms reform (25.09.2008)

European Parliament votes against 3-strikes (24.09.2008)

Telecoms Package : European democracy’s victory already threatened

EDRIgram: The telecom package debated by the European Parliament