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European Parliament back-room bargain sacrifices Internet users rights

 

Amendment 138, which  protects Internet users rights against blocking  and 3-strikes measures, has been scrapped in a back-room EU deal. The European Parliament has sacrificed users rights, in order to appease the French and UK government demands, so that they can move ahead with plans for 3-strikes and  protocol blocking. 

Amendment 138 is to be deleted.  The pressure is coming from the UK and French governments, and it is likely to be a completely intolerable situation for the rapporteur, the French Socialist MEP Catherine Trautmann. Nevertheless, she knows the importance of Amendment 138, in symbolising the protection of users interests against those of the large corporations. At home, in Paris, her Party has opposed the Sarkozy regime and its 3-strikes law (also known as the Creation and Internet law). That opposition saw the successful rejection of the Creation and Internet law just over a week ago.

 

There will be a Recital, which Mrs Trautmann is trying to sell to her colleagues as

a suitable replacement. But a Recital  is not the same, because EU countries are not bound to do anything with a Recital, whereas they must implement what is stated in the Articles. Amendment 138 is, importantly, an Article.

 

The new Recital has been written  by Coreper, the back-room, unaccountable  civil servants who run the  Council of Ministers. And the same people who are pressuring Mrs Trautmann on behalf of the UK and French governments. These people will never have to account to anyone for the appallingly bad law they are trying to push through. This law will fundamentally alter the Internet, it will permit the blocking of services and applications by network operators - on behalf of copyright or for their own reasons. It will erode users rights, contrary to the spin that some MEPs are trying to put out.

 

 It is up to the European Parliament - in the face of elections - to stand up for what is right for citizens.

 

La Quadrature du Net has called on all European Internet users  to write to their MEP asking the to support Amendment 138 .

 

  Amendment 138

Amendment 138 seeks to safeguard Internet users' rights in the face of 3-strikes/graduated response measures, network filtering and protocol blocking. Together with Amendment 166 (Article 32a of the Universal Services directive) it seeks to prevent users being unfairly sanctioned or blocked by their broadband provider.  The 'limitations' amendments in the Telecoms Package - see my articles on 'limitations' in Filtering the Package on iptegrity.com - will legally permit broadband providers to block access to websites, services and applications, at their discretion. That means they could block peer-to-peer traffic and sites, as well as Skype and other services. 

 NB: Amendment 138, the original text, is listed as Amendments 46 and 135 in the Trautmann report. 

(fb) applying the principle that no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users without a prior ruling of the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened, in which case the ruling may be subsequent. 

New Recital replacing Amendment 138

 This new Recital has been circulated on an email within the European Parliament. All MEPs will have it. 

 

Recognizing that the Internet is essential for the practical exercise of freedom of

expression and access to information and education, any restriction imposed on the

exercise of these fundamental rights must be subject to a decision by an

independent and impartial tribunal established by law acting in respect of due

process as defined in Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human

Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

 

This is a Recital.  EU countries are not obligated to implement it.  It only recognises the Internet for access to information and education - implying a limited set of uses - ignoring the myriad of other uses. It removes the word 'principle'  - 'principles' do have a meaning in the law, they must be respected. 'Recognising' something is weak, and I think, it is meaningless - but I'm happy to hear from any lawyers who can correct me. 

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

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2009)Amendment 138 scrapped in EU Telecoms Package deal , iptegrity.com, 20 April 2009. 

 

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Iptegrity in brief

 

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing. I am on the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group.  I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. For more, see About Iptegrity

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