Big tech accountability? Read the backstory to today's policy debates here on Iptegrity.

In 2012, three years after the conclusion of the legislative process, I've been noticing references to something called the Telecom Reform Package. Having followed the policy since 2007, I was bit puzzled why I'd never seen it before, and in particular, why I would never call it that. Had I really missed the correct name of the policy I studied?

The answer is no, I hadn't, but people who are coming to fresh since 2009, are picking up on a confusing nomenclature when they try to check the official sources. Here's why!

If you want to give it the full, official name, pershaps you should use this:

Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL amending European Parliament and Council Directives 2002/19/EC, 2002/20/EC and 202/21/EC Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL amending European Parliament and Council Directives 2002/22/EC and 2002/58/EC Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL establishing the European Electronic Communications Markets Authority

Of course, that is unwieldy and unrealistic.

The Council of Ministers had another monicker for it - the 'Better Regulation directive' and the 'Citizens rights' directive. Neither of these names gained any traction outside the Council, possibly because those who knew the process could see the hypocrisy in them.

So it became known by a shorthand title of the 'Telecoms Package'.

The 'Telecoms Package' is the name used in the European Parliament official procedure file from 2007-2009. In my opinion, that is sufficient basis to justify saying that it's official title is the 'Telecoms Package'.

From my own memory and experience, it was always referred to in speech as the 'Telecoms Package'.

In EU policy-making, the word 'package' is used when there are two or more piece of legislation that are being considered together. In this instance, there were 5 existing directives being reviewed together, and a new Regulation being proposed. The word 'package' is clearly appropriate.

The European Commission's old website explained clearly that the the EU telecoms framework was made up of a package of 5 directives. Hence, it would be logical to use the word 'package' in the day-today references to the legislative review.

The Commission's new website* does clearly refer to it as the 'EU Telecoms Package' so that name does arguably remain consistent.

The European Parliament's legislative website, recently revised, retains the name of 'Telecoms Package'.

However, it is actually not surprising that academics and journalists and others who were not close to the process might be confused. The process is referred to by the European Commission as the Telecoms Review, Revision, and Reform in different places and sometimes also as the 'amended' framework. Sometimes two or more of these expressions are inter-changeably used in the same Commission document.

The Commission's very first press release in November 2007, refers in the same document to the 'Telecoms Reform' proposals, the 'Telecoms Reform Package' and (right at the end, next to press pack availability) the EU 'Telecoms Package'. I assume that those who didn't know, have dug out this release, found the first of these, and assumed that it was the correct terminology.

To confuse matters further, some media reports from the time the Package was being processed in the EU legislature, have also used the words 'review' and 'reform' inter-changeably.

What might have conflated matters further was an odd, floating landing page that looked like the European Commission website, but did not connect to any of the menus on the official site. This page was headlined 'The Telecoms Reform'. It was indexed by Google and came up in search rankings. It could easily have been found by nave researchers. Anyway, now that the Commission has re-worked its website, presumably, this landing page ( if it was created by the Commission?) will be pulled down.

Is the word 'reform' correct at all?

I would argue that this was a review or a revision, of Europe's telecoms rules, but never a reform. The main reform of Europe's telecommunications regulation occurred in the 1990s and was crystalised in the 2002 Telecoms Framework. If you look over that, you will see a clear shift in policy.

If you go back to the European Commission's original Impact Assessment**, the word 'review' is used, but the word 'reform' is never mentioned. The Impact Assessment is prepared by the Commission staff who are directly responsible for the policy, so one assumes that what they write is what was intended.

If you study the 'Telecoms Package' , (and how it was processed through the EU) you will see changes to update, revise, move forward, or amend policy to reflect experience (or indeed, lobbying demands). What you don't see is any significant change of direction in the underlying policy.

I'm happy to be corrected, but I think I am right here.

Post-script - the most controversial aspect of the Telecoms Package concerned copyright and three strikes measures - for that story, read my book The Copyright Enforcement Enigma !

**The references for this other documents are all in my book. The Copyright Enforcement Enigma

This is an original article from Iptegrity.com. If you refer to it or to its content, you should cite my name as the author, and provide a link back to iptegrity.com. Media and Academics - please cite as Monica Horten, What is the correct name for the 'Telecoms Package?' , in www.iptegrity.com, 29 October 2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten.

I am a tech policy specialist, published author, post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Currently working on UK Online Safety Bill.

Recent media quotes: BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian, Politico.  Panelist: IAPP,  CybersecuritySummit. Parliament and Internet. June 2022-July 2023 w/ Open Rights Group.

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