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The European Commission has made the first public admission that the Telecoms Package is part of the legal framework for IP enforcement. What does it mean for ACTA?

Regular readers of iptegrity.com will know that for the past two years I have consistently argued that the Telecoms Package contained provisions for copyright enforcement.

A similar analysis was made by others, including the citizens group La Quadrature du Net, who campaigned against the Telecoms Package.

During the passage of the Telecoms Package in the European Parliament, there were denials, lies, and cover-ups - or just plain

silence. Citizen campaigners were accused of "scare-mongering". The provisions themselves were written in obscure text and tucked into places where they were not expected to be. The EU powers-that-be did not want the truth of what they were doing exposed. The aim was to raise doubts, and soften the opposition.

We can see the results in the UK's Digital Economy Act, and the French Hadopi law.

Now, in a press release from DG Trade on the almost "final" version of ACTA (note that some important points have NOT been agreed) the European Commission sets out the IP enforcement legal framework for Europe. Last but not least on its list of directives, is the Telecoms Package - the Universal Services and Users Rights directive, and the Framework directive:

European IPR enforcement legislation includes the:

- Enforcement of IPR Directive;

- IPR Customs Regulation

- Copyright in the Information Society Directive

- E-commerce Directive

- Data Protection Directives

- Telecom Reform package of 2009, including the regulatory framework forelectronic communications.

We face a similar situation with ACTA. Tucked away in obsure texts, are some quite damaging provisions which the European Commission is trying to cover up. (See also my previous articles with analysis).

At least, with the Telecoms Package, legislators had some opportunity to build in safeguards against abusive practices, and the outcome is Article 1.3a of the Framework directive. Whilst it may not be as comprehensive as might have been wished, at least it is there. It is an instruction that due process - a prior, fair and impartial hearing - must be followed in all cases where Internet users are to be sanctioned for copyright infringement.

In ACTA, there is no "Article 1.3a". And therefore no safeguard against privately operated justice.

In a strange sort of way, we must thank the team at DG Trade for clarifying the position of the Telecoms Package under Europe's IP enforcement framework - but there is a need to be ever-vigilant against their too-ready accedence to ACTA.

And the ongoing attempts to deny, lie, and cover-up.


DG Trade press release on ACTA October 2010

For the full story of the Telecoms Package, see my book The Copyright Enforcement Enigma: Internet politics and the Telecoms Package

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.  

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