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A key new amendment enshrining the operator's right to block Internet content will not be voted on. It is tucked into the "compromise" document, which will be voted as a block.This appears to be a breach of procedure and should be seriously questioned.

This is amendment number 103 on the HARBOUR report. Within this document, you will find Article 2a and Recital 22a. Neither of these was voted on in the IMCO committee vote on 31 March. At that point, they had not been written. Mr Harbour said that he wanted to re-write the original Amendment 166, but did not indicate how he proposed to do so. The committee voted on the original Amendment 166 and carried it.

Article 2a and Recital 22a of the Universal Services and users rights directive, both say the same thing - that operators will nto be prohibited from blocking Internet users access

to services and applications. Applying a principle of English law, that something is permitted if it not forbidden, this Article 2a and Recital 22a may be interpreted as giving operators the right to block.

The Parliament will not get the chance to vote on these amendments individually. Check the voting list, which is downloadable via the La Quadrature du Net website . The voting list is stitched up, so that this amendment will be voted within the "compromise" which is listed as amendment no 103. It should technically under the rules, be split out, because technically it is an alternative for the original Amendment 166 - Article 32a - and therefore the Parliament should have the opportunity to vote on it. Especially in light of its significance - as I have previously reported, it reverses existing principles in EU law, which guarantee end-to-end connectivity.

Catherine Trautmann has tabled her so-called 'fake' Amendment 138 - the re-written and re-positioned amendment drafted by the Council - for a split vote. This too would indicate that not splitting out Article 2a and Recital 22a in the Harbour report is a breach of procedure.

It appears to be an attempt to sneak in to the law, something which users all over Europe are protesting about, and evidence if such was needed that the European Parliament is not listening to the constituents who will be voting in June.

Here is the text that will now not be voted on:

2a. This Directive neither mandates nor prohibits conditions, imposed by

providers of publicly available electronic communications and services,

limiting users' access to and/or use of services and applications, where

allowed under national law and in conformity with Community law, but does

provide for information regarding such conditions. National measures

regarding end-users' access to or use of services and applications through

electronic communications networks shall respect the fundamental rights

and freedoms of natural persons, including in relation to privacy and due

process, as defined in Article 6 of the European Convention for the

Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.


(22a) Directive 2002/22/EC (Universal Service Directive) neither mandates nor prohibits

conditions imposed by providers, in accordance with national law, limiting users'

access to and/or use of services and applications but does provide for information

regarding such conditions. Member States wishing to implement measures

regarding users' access to and/or use of services and applications must respect the

fundamental rights of citizens, including in relation to privacy and due process,

and any such measures should take full account of policy goals adopted at

Community level, such as furthering the development of the Community

information society.

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), European Parliament Dirty Trick on Internet Vote, iptegrity.com, 5 May 2009.

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor: online safety, technology and human rights. In April 2024, I was appointed as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on online safety and empowerment of content creators and users. 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.