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.

I have written another  briefing paper on the Telecoms package. Called Packaging up copyright enforcement - how the Telecoms Package slots in the framework for a European policy to restrict Internet content, the paper discusses the mechanisms  that could be used to bring in a policy of copyright enforcement and how the Telecoms Package lays the foundation for it. The paper argues that it is a clear intent of the legislation that national regulators will be asked to promote a policy where ISPs have to

Read more: A copyright enforcement package for Europe

A legal analysis of the Telecoms Package, released today by the UK's Open Rights Group, says that the Package provides for a set of "crucial obligations' on Europe's telecoms companies and ISPs to "co-operate" with the copyright industries. 

 

The analysis considers whether the Telecoms Package could provide a legal platform for either 3 strikes (graduated response)  or filtering. It provides a breakdown, from a legal perspective, of the amendments in the Telecoms Package which relate to these types of measures.

In the summary, the authors say: "This is a crucial set of obligations, about to be imposed on all of Europe’s ISPs and telcos, which should be debated in the open, not passed under cover of stealth in the context of a vast and incomprehensible package of telecoms regulation. It seems, on careful legal examination by independent experts, more than possible that such a deliberate stealth exercise is indeed going on. When passed, these obligations will provide Europe level authority for France’s current “3 strikes” legislation, even though this has already been denounced as against fundamental rights by the European Parliament, when it was made clear to them what they were voting for or against."

On network filtering, they comment:  "What seemed therefore to be a provision requiring

Read more: Telecoms package: crucial obligations on "co-operation"

The European Commission is playing an odd kind of card game with the Telecoms Package amendments. It supports  Amendment 138 to the Framework directive, but drops amendment 166 to the Universal Service directive, yet both amendments support the same principles. Either Mrs Reding  genuinely wants to see the Internet remain open and users treated fairly, or she  is playing some kind of  political poker.

 

The European Commission's opinion on the  amendments to the Telecoms Package was released late today - no doubt they were hoping to bury it over the week-end. Because in spite of the political wool which they continue to eke out of their creaking PR  spindle, the controversial and inflamatory presence of content matters and  copyright enforcement is still plain to be seen.

If Mrs Reding genuinely had realised the error of her ways, we would have expected to see the non-acceptance of amendments 112 and 61 - the linked co-operation and lawful content amendments. We would also have expected the scrapping of all the content-related amendments, including the requirements to place restrictions in users contracts and not anticipated that the Commission would reinsert the text to inform users about 'copyright infringements and their legal consequences'. Both of these being key requirements for graduated response measures. 

And it goes without saying,  that she would be able to support both Framework directive 138 and Universal Service 166.  

 But Mrs Reding has dropped one  card on the table. This is the Commission's refusal to accept amendment 120. This amendment deleted the requirement for ISPs to enforce copyright and copyright enforcement law.  It was one of the copyright hooks, inserted by the College of commissioners - rumoured by Mrs Reding herself - before the Telecoms Package  began its journey through the Parliament.

If ever there was a giveaway, this is it. The Commission is making it clear that it wants copyright, and copyright enforcement to stay in the Telecoms Package. The question is, what  will it do with card number 138?

The Commission's proposals are available here .  

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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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