The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

Six members of the European Parliament have tabled AT&T's proposals to limit users access to the Internet.

 

Six MEPs have taken text supplied by the American telecoms multi-national, AT&T, and pasted it directly into amendments tabled to the Universal Services directive in the Telecoms Package. The six are Syed Kamall , Erika Mann, Edit Herczog , Zita Pleštinská , Andreas Schwab , and Jacques Toubon .

AT&T and its partner Verizon,   want the regulators in Europe to keep their hands-off new network technologies which will provide the capability for  broadband providers  to restrict or limit users access to the Internet.  They have got together with a group of other telecoms companies to lobby on this issue. Their demands  pose a threat to the neutrality of the network, and  at another level, to millions of web businesses in Europe.

The Universal Services directive is supposed to set out the rights of users and

consumers of telecommunications services in Europe. It should seek to guarantee their rights to access content, services and applications on the Internet, and to a clear channel connection to the open Internet. These damaging amendments seek to do the opposite, and close off the Internet by limiting rights.

 

As previously reported on iptegrity.com,  and also  in the International Herald Tribune ,  a lobbyist for AT&T has being pushing these amendments  around Brussels for several months. The text has been widely circulated. It therefore does astonish me that MEPs would so blatantly table it.

 As I have previously reported, further amendments by Malcolm Harbour, and already in his revised report of 23 February,  look remarkably compliant with  AT&T's  demands,  but do not directly cut and paste it.

 On a lighter note, perhaps we should nick-name  AT&T "the Amendment  Typing and Tabling company"!

 

Compare the AT&T amendments against the text that has been tabled: 

Amendement 105

Syed Kamall

(22) Given the increasing importance of

electronic communications for consumers

and businesses, users should be fully

informed of any relevant limitations

imposed on the use of electronic

communications services by the service

and/or network provider with which they

conclude the contract.

 

The AT&T amendments to Recital 14 (I only have a hard copy) :

Given the increasing importance of

electronic communications for consumers

and businesses, users should be fully

informed of any relevant restrictions and/or limitations

imposed on the use of electronic communications services

by the service and/or network provider with which they conclude a contract.

 

 

Amendement 136

Erika Mann, Edit Herczog

Amendement 137

Zita Pleštinská, Andreas Schwab

Amendement 138

Syed Kamall

3. In order to address unjustified

degradation of service and hindering or

slowing of traffic over networks, Member

States shall ensure that national regulatory

authorities are able to set minimum quality

of service requirements on an undertaking

or undertakings providing public

communications networks.

Or

The current EU legal framework and the new rules on transparency proposed in this

Directive in principle already provide for sufficient safeguards to ensure the ability of endusers

to access content and applications of their choice. In particular, a competitive market

for retail broadband access - where necessary ensured by wholesale ex-ante access

obligations under Directive 2002/19/EC - and transparency requirements regarding

restrictions of quality of service under this Directive will penalise any undue restrictions of

users' ability to access the content of their choice. If NRAs are nevertheless given the power

to intervene in QoS, it should be clarified that this can be done only to address observed

harmful practices that are not justified by legitimate interests of network management

 

This amendment should be compared with AT&T's  proposed amendment  to Article 22.3

 

Amendment 116

Jacques Toubon

Position commune du Conseil - acte modificatif

Recital 26

(26) A competitive market should also

ensure that users are able to have the

quality of service they require, but in

particular cases it may be necessary to

ensure that public communications

networks attain minimum quality levels so

as to address unjustified degradation of

service, usage limitations and slowing of

traffic.

Justification

The current EU legal framework and the new rules on transparency proposed in this

Directive in principle already provide for sufficient safeguards to ensure the ability of endusers

to access content and applications of their choice. In particular, a competitive market

for retail broadband access - where necessary ensured by wholesale ex-ante access

obligations under Directive 2002/19/EC - and transparency requirements regarding

restrictions of quality of service under this Directive will penalise any undue restrictions of

users' ability to access the content of their choice. If NRAs are nevertheless given the power

to intervene in quality of services, it should be clarified that this can be done only to address

observed harmful practices that are not justified by legitimate interests of network

management

 

This amendment should be compared with AT&T's  proposed Amendment to  Recital 16. 

 

 

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The Copyright Enforcement Enigma tells the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package and how the copyright industries tried to hijack it.

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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten, European expert on Internet policy and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She is an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on Cross-border flow of Internet traffic and Internet freedom (MSI-INT). She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy. Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

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