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

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.

Viviane Reding is no iron lady - she IS  for turning, as this weeks events reveal a u-turn on her position of 6 months' ago. 


Amid the furore over the Telecoms Package and  Amendment 138, which put paid to the French government's plans to cut users off the Internet for alleged copyright infringement,  EU Information Society Comissioner Viviane Reding has now come down on the side of the citizen.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels on Wednesday, she is reported to have underlined the importance of citizens as stakeholders in the debate over the future of the Internet. According to a report in EUobserver, which organised the conference, she said that "the parliament's amendment was an important re-statement of citizens' fundamental rights, and that cutting off someone's access to the internet also cut them off from searching for jobs, from health records and

Read more: U-turn if you want to, Mrs Reding

In contradiction to previous unverified reports, it now appears that Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society, does support Amendment 138 of the Telecoms Package - or at least, she won't go against it.   Brussels sources close to Mrs Reding have confirmed  that Mrs Reding will not oppose the amendment given that it was the subject of a very large majority in the Parliament. 

Update 7 October 2008 This has now been confirmed by a Commission official at a press conference - see links below. 

Amendment 138 of the Telecoms Package is the citizens' amendment, proposed by the French MEP Guy Bono, and reinforces a principle voted by the European Parliament in April 2008, within the Bono report (Report on the Cultural Industries in Europe). It states that a court ruling must be obtained in respect of sanctions against Internet users who are alleged to have illegally downloaded copyrighted material. It is widely being interpreted as the death of graduated response / 3 strikes measures. 

Amendment 138 was subject to last minute horse-trading in the European Parliament, and the text as voted - with an oral amendment - was agreed on a cross-party basis, which is why it was able to obtain such a large majority - 573 in favour and only 74 against. The majority included a large number of the EPP conservative group, as well as the socialists and greens.   

Reports (see previous article on have suggested that Mrs Reding wanted it withdrawn, but they were not officially confirmed. This view could have been inferred from a statement by the French Culture Minister, Christine Albanel, which alleged  that the European Commission has never supported Amendment 138: "La ministre rappelle qu'aucun des Etats membres qui composent le Conseil, pas plus que la Commission, n'ont manifesté leur volonté de soutenir un amendement de cette nature".  It is now apparent that the Commission's position is different from that suggested by Mme Albanel.

 As I understand it, the Council position on the Telecoms Package  is also not so clear cut. There are suggestions that the French are in a minority of one, and that other member states oppose the inclusion of content measures in the Telecoms Package. 

Mrs Reding is between a rock and a hard place. She wants to be

Read more: Reding will not oppose Amendment 138

EU Commissioner for Information Society apparently seeks the removal of Amendment 138,  a key Telecom Package  amendment to protect citizens' rights to access content on the Internet


According to an unconfirmed report by La Quadrature du Net,  Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and self-styled champion of lower telecoms costs, has reacted swiftly to the Telecoms Package vote result. Less than two days afterwards, she is demanding the withdrawal of a key amendment carried in the  vote on Wednesday.

The report says that she has announced that she would require, on behalf of the European Commission, the withdrawal of Amendment 138. This was the amendment proposed by French MEP Guy Bono, which states that no restrictions on access to Internet content may be made which infringe on users' fundamental rights. It also says that in the case where someone wants to do that, they must first apply to a court. It effectively puts a barrier in the way of the French government's plans for graduated response, and La Quadrature suggests that Mrs Reding's motive may be to protect the French government's plans. 

We would respectfully remind Mrs Reding of a speech she gave only last year, on 9th July 2007, to the International Federation of Journalists, on the subject of freedom of expression.  "Freedom of expression and freedom of information are not luxuries to be indulged in only at the end of social development. They are the starting point for the development of a free and democratic society".


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."

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.

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark 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 is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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