A member of the Czech Presidency team negotiating on the the Telecoms Package is going to a job with AT&T, the American telecommunications giant which lobbied for the provisions to restrict access to services on the Internet.
A Czech government representative who was on the Council's negotiating team for the Telecoms Package, is to start work next month in a senior public affairs role for AT&T Europe. Filip Svab, who was
Third Secretary (information society, telecommunications, postal services, data protection) with the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU, said in a round-robin email 10 days' ago, that he was leaving Brussels for a new job with AT&T.
His new job title will be External Affairs Director. Based in Prague, he will be responsible for the region of Central and East Europe, Germany and Russia.
It is public knowledge that AT&T has exerted very high lobbying pressure on the EU institutions to insert amendments that will enable restrictions on Internet access. These amendments will signal the end of net neutrality, and permit AT&T to act in Europe in a way that it is not permitted to act in the US.
The Czech Presidency led the negotiations on the Telecoms Package Second Reading, where the Council pressured the European Parliament to accept amendments that will permit restrictions on Internet access, and will allow graduated response measures for copyright enforcement.
Mr Svab was chair of the Telecom Working Group, which was responsible for drafting the Council's changes to the Telecoms Package. He spoke in that capacity at joint meetings with the European Parliament, as can been seen from this ITRE committee agenda , where he spoke in respect of Catherine Trautmann's report on the Framework, access and authorisation directives.
Whilst there is a revolving door between the policy institutions and industry, and it would be naive to say there isn't, this one should raise more than a few eyebrows.
In particular, the timing and the seniority of the post. Within a couple of months of the Czech Presidency finishing, and a high-profile vote in the European Parliament on the relevant dossier, a key member of the EU legislative team crosses to the other side.
One could legitimately ask questions as to how much AT&T Europe will benefit financially from the Harbour report.
AT&T lobbied hard for the provisions in the Universal Services directive to permit restrictions on the Internet. It was rumoured that they have been lobbying again over the summer. They apparently want to get the European Parliament to remove even the tiny provisions on quality of service for users (Recital 26 and Article 22.3 in the Universal Services directive). They can be expected to pushing for deletion of Amendment 138, the only Article in the Telecoms Package which protects users rights to use Internet services and applications.
An unrelated matter, we should also ask why this video has been removed from the Czech Presidency website. The video showed a senior AT&T executive sitting on the platform with the rapporteur for the Universal Services directive, MEP Malcolm Harbour. Mr Harbour spoke of Internet restrictions. The video also shows Deutsche Telekom, which called on the EU to oppose Amendment 138.
Here is the text of two of the amendments proposed by AT&T in January this year.
Recital 14 [...] (AT&T's proposal)
Given the increasing importance of electronic communications for consumers and businesses, users should be fully informed of [...] the traffic management policies [...] of any relevant restrictions and/or limitations imposed on the use of the electronic communications services by the service and/or network provider with which they conclude the contract. [...]. Where there is a lack of effective competition, the relevant national [...] authorities should use the remedies available to them in Directive 2002/19/EC to ensure that users' access to particular types of content or applications is not unreasonably restricted.
Article 21( 3). (AT&T's proposal)
Member States shall ensure that national regulatory authorities are able to oblige undertakings providing connection to a public electronic communications network and/or electronic communications services to inter alia:
(b) inform subscribers of any change to the provider's traffic management policies [...]; restrictions imposed by the undertaking on their ability to access content or run applications and services of their choice.
Here is the "compromise" text from the Council, inserted into the Universal Services directive in May (Harbour report):
Member States shall ensure that national regulatory authorities are able to oblige
undertakings providing public electronic communications networks and/or publicly
available electronic communications services to inter alia:
c/ inform subscribers of any change to conditions limiting access to and/or use
of services and applications, where such conditions are permitted under
national law in accordance with Community law;
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)EU negotiator lands top job in AT&T http://www.iptegrity.com 20 September 2009.