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.

Copyright is back in the Telecoms Package second reading as a users rights amendment is hijacked  for copyright enforcement by French MEP Jacques Toubon. Article 32a of the Universal Services directive, (formerly known as Amendment 166) has instead been  turned into an attack on the fundamental   rights of Internet users. 


Copyright enforcement will be permitted in a cynical legal twist on a Telecoms Package  amendment designed to protect users rights. Article 32a of the Universal Services directive (also known as Amendment 166) was designed to protect users' rights against copyright enforcement measures such as graduated response / 3-strikes . These measures impose sanctions such as cutting people off the Internet for downloading music or entertainment, and especially target peer-to-peer users.

The amendment was filed unsurprisingly by the French MEP Jacques Toubon , who has been working for 12 months to get copyright enforcement into the Telecoms Package - the cooperation amendment (Article 33.3) of the Universal Services directive is also his amendment, drafted by the French collecting  society SACD. A different version of Toubon's amendment has also been proposed by the Council as a"compromise". 


MEP Toubon's amendment twists the wording of this amendment, such that it appears to mean that users Internet access  can be

Read more: Toubon hijacks Telecoms Package for copyright

And the British bulldog persists with the ‘wikipedia amendments' to bring in a conditional Internet.


The French government is said to be ‘fighting like a lion' to kill the controversial Amendment 138 for user safeguards  in the Telecoms Package. It is taking its fight to heart of the Council of Ministers, where the British government is also pushing its position for an Internet where access and use is conditional on the operator's terms. 

Amendment 138  is the controversial amendment  which seeks to protect users rights in respect of 3-strikes sanctions, and would make it difficult for France to legally bring in its Hadopi law. It has effectively stopped the EU from bringing in a 3-strikes policy, which had been on the cards for a separate ‘Creative Content Online' initiative.

There is also a strange perversion of the other user safeguard amendment  - known as amendment 166 (article 32a)  in the Universal Services directive  - that has appeared in one of the latest documents.

The UK government's ‘wikipedia amendments'  have been tabled by several MEPs in the Universal

Read more: Lion of France on the attack against Amendment 138

Limitations and restrictions are not the same thing. They pave the way for a kind of Internet on demand.

This article was sent in to by Celia Blanco, a law graduate from Spain, and I'm publishing it because I think it provides some  helpful insights into  the Telecoms Package. It analyses the Telecoms Package, European Parliament revisions of 23 February (revised Harbour and Trautmann reports). In particular, it considers the differentiation between limitations and restrictons, and a possible interpretation of ‘internet on demand', which is not so far fetched when one understands what traffic management systems are capable of.


by Celia Blanco 

Limitations=management policies.  Limitations affect  everyone from the beginning, a priori, and Providers must/may inform about them. (This is transparency.) Providers may offer to users different packages  with different Internets (if you pay a certain amount, you can access the kind of content, services and applications, you choose what you want)

Reading  Amendment 45 of the Trautmann report (Art. 8 a. 2002/21) together  with Recital 22 (Amendment 5 of the Harbour report), there is an interpretation that users should be able to choose in a competitive market with transparent offerings.It does not say that each provider has to ensure that end users are able to access and distribute any content and to use any applications and services of their choice. Instead, it can be interpreted such that  it is the market which has to provide transparent offerings to allow the users to choose what content services and applicationsthey want to access, andtherefore, providers have to inform users of the limitations in the services they offer.

Restrictions= sanctions. A fortiori. Restrictions affect a specific individual and can only be imposed  following a

Read more: Do Telecoms Package limitations mean Internet-on-demand?



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


FROM £15.99

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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