EDRI Open Letter to the EP on Amendment 138

By EDRi · October 21, 2009

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Deutsch: [EDRis offener Brief an das Europäische Parlament über Zusatz 138 | http://www.unwatched.org/node/1551]

EDRi sent the following open letter to all the members of the European
Parliament (EP) on 19 October 2009 asking for a continuos support for the
citizens’ rights by not giving up on Amendment 138 in the Telecoms Package.

To the Members of the European Parliament,

European Digital Rights is an association of 29 privacy and civil rights
organisations based in 18 European countries and active across the European
Union. As an association whose focus is on protecting the civil rights of
online citizens, we have serious concerns about the possible abandonment of
the core meaning of the so-called “Amendment 138” in the Telecoms Package.
We believe that this would not just create lasting damage for the rights of
European citizens, but it would also durably damage the credibility and
institutional power of the European Parliament.

Citizens’ Rights

The purpose of Amendment 138 is to protect the fundamental rights of
citizens to freedom of expression and communication, to privacy and to due
process of law. It also protects the development of democratic culture on
the Internet. The fact that the Council is aware of current and planned
activities in Member States that will undermine or do already undermine
these principles should further convince Parliamentarians of the need to
defend the principles in Amendment 138. Even if, and it is far from evident
that this is the case, the Council can argue convincingly that there are
certain exceptional circumstances where communications must be limited for
the purposes and urgency required by the European Convention on Human
Rights, such limitations should remain the exception in a democratic
society, while the rights defended in Amendment 138 must constitute the
rule. This must be reflected in the Telecoms Package.

Furthermore, failure to protect EU citizens will not only undermine their
rights, but will be used in less democratic countries to victimise
individuals, justified with the excuse that this is “EU policy”.

Parliament Powers

The Parliament now has the chance to protect citizens’ rights and fully
perform its institutional function within the European legislative process.

A capitulation faced with the unacceptably inflexible, legally dubious and
democratically deficient approach of the Council would inflict lasting
damage on the Parliament.

What trust can voters have in an institution that will overwhelmingly
support citizens’ rights before an election only to abandon them immediately
afterwards? What credibility will the Parliament have in future
inter-institutional negotiations when it is prepared to abandon a position
it supported twice with such an overwhelming majority? What authority will
be left once the Parliament loses this crucial battle with the Council?
Could there be a worse moment to fail so completely on an issue of such
importance, at the historic moment when the institution is being entrusted
with a greatly increased scope of codecision powers under the Lisbon Treaty?

For the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of European citizens and for
the sake of the only democratically elected European Institution, we urge
you to take whatever actions you can to defend the principles in Amendment
138. In particular, we urge you to support the principle that, unless
exceptional circumstances render this impossible, citizens are entitled to a
prior judgment before any measure is taken to limit their fundamental right
to freedom of communication.

EDRi Open letter to EP on the European Parliament (19.10.2009)

French version

See also
BEUC: Open letter from European Consumers to The Conciliation Committee on
Telecom Package – Maintain the Current Amendment 138: Protect consumers’
fundamental rights on the Internet

EuroISPA: European Parliament should maintain its defence of citizens’
Fundamental Rights (16.10.2009)

Greens/EFA call on EU Parliament to stick to its principles (16.10.2009)