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Telecoms Package 2nd Reading

This section of iptegrity.com is devoted to analysing the Telecoms Package Second Reading in the European Parliament. In it, I have published articles, papers and analysis notes which took a critical look at the proposed texts and what they might have meant for European citizens and users, with a particular focus on the Internet and content issues.

The Telecoms Package was the review of European telecommunications framework legislation, (for full details please see the other section on iptegrity.com labelled Telecoms Package). Over 800 amendments were originally tabled to the two main directives involved - the so-called Better Regulation directive which incorporates the Framework, Access and Authoritisation directives - and the so-called Citizens Rights directive - which incorporates the Universal Services directive and the e-Privacy directive.

With so many amendments, covering such a broad scope of legislation, it is almost impossible for anyone, even specialists, to have a grasp of their meaning in real life. Let alone members of the European Parliament, for whom this is just one of many subjects, and where they are reliant on their assistants, who in turn rely on lobbyists. This is especially true since the real meaning of many amendments depends on how they are inter-linked with others. Following the chain of links, to figure out, is a complex task. However, when one does so, some serious consequences are being revealed.

The over-arching problem is that this is policy being made by changes in the law. The scope of the telecoms framework is being altered via often subtle wording changes in the amendments. The changing scope is de facto establishing policy, and by-passing the correct policy processes which have been established in the European Union.

To give an idea of the scale of the problem, one telecoms lawyer complained to me that he had 250 pages of documents to read through, in order to analyse the Package and do the job properly. What did he have? The Council compromise documents for the two main bundles in the Package - Better Regulation and Citizens rights - plus the Common position for reference. For those of us who have been with the Telecoms Package since the beginning, trawling through this amount of documentation is strangely normal. It also puts into perspective the enormity of the job for the European Parliament, and begs the question whether MEPs can really do it justice in the time allowed.

If you like the articles in this section and you are interested in Eu telecoms policy and the 2009 Telecoms Package, especially with regard to copyright enforcement policy, you may like my books A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the 'Telecoms Package'

You may like my book The Closing of the Net which positions the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package in the wider policy context.



Telecoms Package surprise result as European Parliament makes a vote for democracy and civil liberties on the Internet. But it is not clear how much of a win it is.

Good news on Trautmann as the original Amendment 138 passes.

Bad news on Harbour - Internet limits (blocks) could become law.

**Updated July 7th - See below.**

The Trautmann report in the Telecoms Package will go to a third reading following the vote in favour of a users rights amendment by the European Parliament this afternoon. The original Amendment 138 passed with 407 in favour, 57 against and 151 abstentions. The vote means that the EU debate on the future of the Internet and civil liberties will continue into the Swedish Presidency, at least in the context of the overall Framework legislation. But the Internet-blocking amendments in the Universal Services and Users Rights directive have been carried, and it seems that they could now go on to become law. It is not clear at the moment, whether or not the Harbour report also goes to a 3rd reading.

**Catherine Trautmann: "When a single point of the "compromise" was not adopted, the whole Package will go to Conciliation"

**European Parliament President: "I think the Parliament has understood the consequences of what it has done"

On the other hand, the vote for Amendment 138 was a political signal against French President Sarkozy and his plans for graduated response / 3-strikes copyright enforcement measures. Likewise, it sends a signal to other EU governments such as the UK, Spain and Italy which are considering similar copyright enforcment proposals, that such measures are out of line with established European Internet policies and fundamental rights.

The vote was tense. Rebecca Harms (German, Greens) spoke twice to change the order on the voting list, which

Read more: European Parliament rejects Telecoms Package

 MEP Malcolm Harbour has attacked the OpenNet coalition of user NGOs and ISPs on the European Parliament website. The  rapporteur for the Universal Services and Users Rights directive, accuses a group of knowledgable users of 'pure fantasy.' His article  appears to be part of  a series of moves to close down all opposition to the Telecoms Package plenary vote today in the European Parliament.  

 

 The OpenNet coalition, which runs the Blackout Europe site has been angered by an attack from Malcolm Harbour which  accuses them of ‘pure fantasy' in respect of their interpretation of the Telecoms Package amendments. He names the Blackout Europe website on  a ‘major  news ‘ page posted on the European Parliament's website, where he says he  is "astonished" to see their text  and claims that "the Telecoms Package has never been anything to do with restrictions on the Internet".  

 

The Opennet coalition has responded with a robust rebuttal of Mr Harbour's ‘fantasy' allegation and suggest that, on the contrary,  his claims are misinforming the European public. It  exposes  the real issues  behind his claims by citing several examples where he himself has been quoted discussing restrictions to Internet services (see link below). The coaltion consists of NGOs from almost all member states, including Italy's

Read more: Users coalition angered by Harbour's 'fantasy' claims

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

Read more: European Parliament dirty trick on Internet vote

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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.