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.

Report from Brussels 

The controversial Amendment 138 has set EU officials searching for the rule books as they attempt to work out how to re-introduce it in the Second Reading of the Telecoms Package.

Amendment 138 states that sanctions cannot be applied against Internet users without a prior judicial ruling. It positions itself against measures such as graduated response or 3 strikes, where it is proposed to sanction users without going to court.

It was dropped without explanation by the Council of Ministers in their political agreement last November, but it is understood that MEP Guy Bono plans to re-introduce it. The rules for MEPs to table amendments in Second Reading are different from the first reading, where 40 signatures are required. It seems that even

Read more: Amendment 138 forces European Parliament rules check-up

 Report from European Council Meeting (Telecommunications Council) 27 November 2008

Political agreement in the Council on Telecoms Package. Key  compromises on functional separation, pan-European regulator and regulatory remedies. UK, Sweden and Netherlands abstain from agreement. Amendment 138 rejected. No explanation available.

 

 The European Council has confirmed that it wants to drop the controversial amendment 138 from theTelecoms Package. In doing so, it sets itself clearly in the opposite corner to both the Commission and the Parliament and it puts a stumbling block in the way of the negotiations which will now take place between the three institutions. It also positions the Council as unfriendly to citizens rights, in spite of its somewhat hypocritical attempts to rename the Universal Services Directive as 'the citizen's rights directive'. 

 Amendment 138 states that no restrictions may be put on users rights to access content on the Internet without a court order. In one sense, it re-affirms the existing legal situation. In another sense, it puts a barrier in the way of the French government and its plans for graduated response / 3-strikes (the Creation and Internet law).  

The French Industry Minister, Luc Chatel, was unable to

Read more: European Council opposes Parliament on Amendment 138

Is there a difference if 3-strikes measures are optional at European level, rather than obligatory? This is a key question for policy-makers as they prepare for  the European Council vote on Thursday. 

*You can watch the European  Council  debate the Telecoms Package  on a webcast via this link  from 9.15 am (8.15 am  UK) on Thursday 27th November*

 

 The Council of Ministers has today published its compromise proposals for the Universal Services Directive and they  are now available online (this was the main part of   the Harbour report in the European Parliament) . The main change is that the requirement for telecoms regulators to enforce "co-operation" agreements between ISPs and rights holders, has been made optional, not compulsory:  the word 'shall' which conveyed the obligation,  has been replaced by 'may' (in Article 33 (2a) which was confirmed recently by MEP Ruth Hieronymi as 'anchoring' Olivennes-style proposals into the Package). Thus, it would appear to  imply a kind of optional 3-strikes or indeed, a voluntary agreement between the two industries for the purposes of enforcing copyright. 

Another significant change is the removal of the requirement for ISPs to

Read more: Will Europe opt for 3-strikes on Thursday?

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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

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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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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

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