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Should new legislation be released to the media before it goes to the European Parliament?

The new Telecoms Regulation is due to be presented to the European Parliament tomorrow. Butthe entire draft with all of its accompanying documents was sent to the media today. Even as I write this, it is circulating on the Internet. Not a leak. The official final draft. In my opinion, this is a breach of protocol. Surely, the Parliament should be told first, especially when the measures in the Regulation are so controversial?

When Viviane Reding, as Information Society Commissioner, wanted to introduce controversial copyright measures into the 2009 Telecoms Package, she was advised by her head of unit that it would be disastrous: words to the effect of 'if she thinks she can do that and keep control, she is wrong!'.

So it is now for Neelie Kroes over net neutrality. Including a provision allowing prioritisation of traffic was bound to be inflammatory (see Reding tackles Kroes: new EU telecoms law puts free speech at risk). Does the Commission not recall ACTA? The protests were not just about copyright, many of the protesters confused the ACTA issues with net neutrality. It's the Internet, and the right to communicate unhindered and not to be controlled by large corporates, that is what people really get upset about.

And another thing. Leaking it to the media, prior to presenting it to the European Parliament, is a serious breach of protocol. The Parliament should get the Regulation first, then the media. And the Commission should retain its gravitas and keep its mouth firmly closed.

When I was doing my research for the 2009 Telecoms Package, I had discussions with lobbyists of all colours, and it was clear that they regard it as bad form if the Commission tips off the media before the Parliamentary presentation.

The embargo that was, in my opinion, naively placed on Telecoms Regulation, has already been broken and the official version of the Telecoms Regulation is available to download.

Mre Reding has come to regret her mistake. I do wonder how it will rebound on Mrs Kroes.

However, for the benefit of the Commisson, I received a copy yesterday of a draft that is almost the same as the one released today - with one significant difference that I can see. It appears to be a mistake in the drafting, but it does make a substantive difference.

I will comment later today on the earlier leaked draft, and tomorrow on the official version, and the mistake.

**The proposal is formally known as the Regulation laying down measures to complete the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent.

For the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package and Viviane Reding's controversial move, see my book The Copyright Enforcement Enigma Internet Politics and the Telecoms Package

This is an original article from Iptegrity.com and reflects research that I have carried out. If you refer to it or to its content, please cite my name as the author, and provide a link back to iptegrity.com. Media and Academics - please cite as Monica Horten, 2013, 10 September 2013. Commercial users - please contact me.


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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.