Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

Telecoms Package 2nd Reading

This section of 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 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. 


But will it help the EU to resist a US push for multi-lateral 3-strikes?


The political significance of the Telecoms Package Amendment 138 has been  raised a notch or two with the revelation that its fate will determine what the EU will agree to in the ACTA - Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

The ACTA is a multi-lateral agreement on intellectual property  enforcement,  being pushed by the US Trade Representative,  which is an international lobby for US corporate interests - in respect of copyright, the powerful Hollywood studios and US broadcasters. ACTA is being negotiated in secret, however, the content is slowly emerging.   It aims at stringent measures to enforce copyright on a global basis, and among other things, deals with Internet downloading. Requests for public access to ACTA documents have been refused, but one did emerge on Wikileaks.

 Canadian lawyer Michael Geist  reports  on his blog that there is a rift between the EU and the US in the ACTA

Read more: Amendment 138 puts a spoke in ACTA

A leaked document shows that the rapporteur for users rights does not get the Internet rights issue.


A document authored  by the MEP Malcolm Harbour, rapporteur for the Universal Services and Users rights directive, attempts to dismiss the users rights Amendment 138 saying that it is "badly placed and lost" and "concerns only a principle regarding restrictions".  The document appears to be a note written for internal use. His comments are interesting in light of claims by proponents of Amendment 138 that they have protected users rights and that Internet is now a fundamental right.

 He compares Amendment 138   to the so-called "compromise"agreement which concerns "measures taken regarding end-users rights of access to or use of services and applications".

 Of particular interest, is that he suggests that the phrasing on "measures" creates  a right for end-users. The

Read more: Malcolm Harbour: Amendment 138 "only a principle"

Malcolm Harbour, rapporteur for users rights in the Telecoms Package, has  attacked colleagues who supported an amendment which protects the right to  freedom of expression in respect of the Internet.


In an email circulated to all MEPs, Malcolm Harbour has attacked the  Liberal group in the European Parliament. He accuses them of  stalling the entire Telecoms Package  and says that the Amendment 138, which seeks to protect users rights in respect of freedom of expression and the Internet is not important  and ‘unconnected with any of the main changes in the Telecoms Package'. His complaint  rings hollow, given that an important users rights amendment in his directive was replaced by one that permits restriction of users rights, and the replacement was  never voted on by either his committee (IMCO) or the full Parliament. 


 His email reveals that there was a last-minute meeting of the Liberal party group, which took the decision to

Read more: Malcolm Harbour attacks Liberals on Amendment 138

Iptegrity in brief 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’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. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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States v the 'Net? 

Read The Closing of the Net, by me, Monica Horten.

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.


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