For the backstory to the upload filter check my book The Closing of the Net - PAPERBACK OR KINDLE - £15.99!

Telecoms package

The Telecoms Package (Paquet Telecom) was a review of European telecoms law. Ordinarily, it would have dealt with network infrastructure and universal service and other purely telecoms matters. However, buried within it, deep in the detail, were important legal changes that related to enforcement of copyright. These changes represented a threat to civil liberties and risk undermining the entire structure of Internet, jeopardising businesses and cultural diversity.

The bottom line is that changes to telecoms regulations are needed before EU member states can bring in the so-called "3 strikes" measures - also known as "graduated response" - of which France led  the way, but other governments, notably the UK,  followed. A swathe of amendments were tabled at the instigation of entertainment industry lobbying. These amendments were aimed at bringing an end to free downloading. They also brought with them the risk of an unchecked corporate censorship of the Internet, with a host of unanswered questions relating to the legal oversight and administration.

The Telecoms Package was voted in the plenary session of the European Parliament on 24th September. It followed a brief debate on 2nd September, and a committee vote in July. In November last year it was  put to vote in the European Council. Now - winter 2009 - it is headed for a second reading in the European Parliament. The official start will be 18th February, but negotiations are underway now. The plenary vote was planned for 21 April.  It has been re-scheduled to 6 May.  This timetable has not left much time for public debate, and it reminds me of the rushed passage of the data retention directive (see Data Retention on this site). It is, if you like, regulation by stealth.

I had originally planned  that this site would just highlight reports from elsewhere, related to my research topic. But at the time, it felt  wrong to me that such critical changes - which will infringe on people's freedoms and fundamentally alter the social and legal character of the Internet - should happen without at least the opportunity for a full and frank public debate. So I set out the issues as I see them, and reported on relevant public events.

If you like the articles in this section and you are interested in EU telecoms law and the 2009 Telecoms Package, 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’

I have written a series of  briefing papers. You are free to download them. They are released under a Creative Commons licence. You are free to use them, but you should attribute it to me as the author, and reference their publication on iptegrity.com.

The first paper discusses why we should protect  the 'mere conduit' principle: 'The ‘Telecoms Package’ and the copyright amendments – a European legal framework to stop downloading, and monitor the Internet

The second paper discusses network filtering:  Deep packet inspection, copyright and the Telecoms Package

The third paper discusses copyright enforcement policy:  Packaging up copyright enforcement - how the Telecoms Package slots in the framework for a European policy to restrict Internet content 


Finally,  you may like my book The Closing of the Net which contains a breif summary of the Telecoms Package story with regard to copyright, and moves the policy agenda on to consider other issues of secondary liability including,  the Megaupload case.

European civil liberties groups are calling on MEPs to reject a Telecoms Package amendment that, if passed in its present form, could permit network operators to collect and mine users Internet and email data.

 

European Digital Rights (EDRi), France's La Quadrature du Net, and Germany's AK Vorrat have jointly  issued a  warning  about  Amendment 181 in the e-Privacy directive of the e-Privacy directive. They say it is so badly worded that it potentially allows operators to collect an unlimited amount of personal data related to our communications usage, including email traffic records and web surfing data. Vast 'pools' of data could be  stored for an unlimited amount of time, which goes much further than  the existing EU law in the Data Retention directive. 

 

The problems lie in both the European Parliament and the Council versions of the amendment.  The European Parliament version provides some protection for end-users but also could be interpreted as allowing the data to be passed to a third party.

 The Council version removes all data protection requirements whilst limiting the scope to security purposes.

 They are joined by the European

Read more: Civil liberties groups warn on web surfing data pools

Report from Brussels

Pushed by an AT&T lobbyist, some revised amendments to the Telecoms Package could usher in filtering, and have rocketed net neutrality from a non-issue to one of the hottest under discussion in the Telecoms Package trialogues.

A raft of new “compromise” amendments to the Telecoms Package is circulating in Brussels. On the surface, they state that telcos, network operators and ISPs should be able to “address unjustified degradation of service”, and impose “reasonable usage restrictions, and price differentiation” without any regulatory interference. The sub-agenda however, is that these legal texts could enable network operators to shrug off accountability for filtering, throttling and degrading user traffic, including access to content. With obvious implications for the neutrality of the network. 

I first reported on these amendments at the end of last year, when three amendments were proposed – two Recitals addressing ‘network management’ and ‘degradation of service’, and a revision to Article 22(3) of the Universal Services directive. Since then however, a new Recital and an amendment to Article 21 have been added, which re-introduce the concept that users should be informed of ‘restrictions on access to content and services’. This language shifts the onus back from the network operator to the user. It had been deleted by the Council.

The main driving force behind the amendments is the Brussels lobbyist for the American telecoms operator AT&T, who has been actively promoting his amendments inside and outside of the European Parliament. I have spoken to at least half a dozen people on this topic, who have all given me the same name. It’s also my understanding however, that the issue of net neutrality is the subject of a document being circulated by other lobbyists working for

Read more: Net neutrality burns hot on the EU telecoms agenda

Report from Brussels

An amendment to the Telecoms Package which supports the principles established in the Bono report is back on the European Parliament agenda for the Telecoms Package trialogues.

This is Article 32(a) of the Universal Services Directive ( Amendment 166 to the Harbour report). The amendment sets out the principle that any sanctions on end users, and notably any restrictions on users rights to access content, applications and services, must be proportionate to the alleged ‘offence’ (full text below). It is an important amendment, given that elsewhere in the Universal Services Directive, there is language concerning restrictions on users access to content. And as long as the 'co-operation' amendment (Article 33 (2a) or Harbour report Amendment112) remains in, which would establish in the law a process for telecoms regulators to oversee joint programmes for copyright enforcement between ISPs and rights-holders,  it is an essential safeguard for users' rights.

It is my understanding that this amendment is now being considered among a list of political issues related to the Harbour report. The Parliament is to look at

Read more: Pro-Bono Amendment 166 back on political agenda

opening.panel.kiev.2015.s.jpg

 

States v the 'Net? 

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

"original and valuable"  Times higher Education

" essential read for anyone interested in understanding the forces at play behind the web." ITSecurity.co.uk

Find out more about the book here  The Closing of the Net

PAPERBACK /KINDLE

FROM £15.99

Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

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

Don't miss Iptegrity! Iptegrity.com  RSS/ Bookmark      

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is  a trainer & consultant on Internet governance policy, published author& Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and beyond.  She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012. Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy (and now Brexit). Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

Contact  me to use  iptegrity content for commercial purposes