Platform responsibility? Get the backstory - check my book The Closing of the Net - only £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.

Is net neutrality incompatible with traffic management policies? Here is another briefing paper on the Telecoms Package, written by myself and  a colleague, Benedetta Brevini. In the paper, we suggest that a stronger role should be given to national and European regulators to monitor and oversee discriminatory practices by network operators, in order to protect citizens' interests.

We believe that it is essential for policy-makers to guarantee the neutrality of the network, as the Information Society Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has said.

We consider how ‘bandwidth management' is different from ‘traffic management', and how in the new telecoms environment of ‘traffic management', the problem facing the regulators will entail disputes arising between content providers and network operators, which gives them a different set of regulatory issues from the traditional, purely network-based,  issues. 

Finally,  we consider how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was able to address such an  issue when it arose in the US, compared with the powers that EU regulators would have (or not) under the proposals currently in the Telecoms Package. The paper is released here

Read more: Net neutrality v traffic management policies

The UK government wants to cut out users rights to access Internet content, applications and services. Some of the information used to justify the change has been cut and pasted from the Wikipedia.


Amendments to the Telecoms Package circulated in Brussels by the UK government, seek to cross out users' rights to access and distribute Internet content and services. And they want to  replace it with a ‘principle'  that users can be told not only the conditions for access, but also the conditions for the  use  of applications  and services.


The UK government texts have been heavily criticised by  the French campaigning group La Quadrature du Net . It is believed  that they could have been  drawn up by the UK regulator, Ofcom.


The amendments have also appeared in a set of compromise proposals put forward by the Czech Presidency for the Universal Services Directive (Harbour report).


The proposed amendments  cut out completely any users' rights to do with content - whether accessing or distributing -  which would appear to be in  breach of the European Charter of  Fundamental rights, Article 10. The Charter  states that everyone has the right "to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers." In the digital age, the Internet, and the associated applications and services provided by the World Wide Web, is the means by which people exercise that right.


“NRAs shall promote the interests of the citizens of the European Union by inter alia:

(g) applying the principle that end-users should be able there should be transparency of conditions under which services are provided, including information on the conditions of to access to and/or use of and distribute information or run applications and services, and of any traffic management policies of their choice


The  wording  "conditions under which services are provided" and "conditions of use" also allude to the principle of conditional  access which applies to satellite and cable television. In EU law, it is established in the Conditional Access Directive (Directive 98/84/EC) which concerns protection of copyright on satellite and cable television systems. The subscription television model is  alluded to

Read more: UK filters in the Wikipedia amendments

Telcos are lobbying hard for discriminatory practices in network management to be permited, which threaten the neutrality of the Internet. They are  opposed by citizens groups who are calling on MEPs to close the loopholes in the  Telecoms Package Second Reading.


Liberty Global is the latest telco to throw its hat in the anti-net neutrality ring, with a statement in support of its colleagues at AT&T and Verizon. In a statement to run with its European Parliament seminar today, Liberty Global calls for limitations on regulatory intervention in respect of ‘network management practices'.  The AT&T amendments are about trying to stop European regulators taking the kind of action that the FCC was able to take in the Comcast case, where a netwwork operator was restricting lawful services on the Internet and the FCC told it to stop.

 La Quadrature du Net has issued a dossier which debunks the telco arguments.  The campaigning group has also done a full analysis of the Telecoms Package Second Reading amendments,  and issued a statement in  which it says "there is still a blatant lack for clarification and no concrete guarantee that Telecom operators won't be allowed full control over the Internet". It  calls on MEPS in the  IMCO and ITRE committees responsible for the Second Reading to be vigilant and to "patch" the final  loopholes left open in the Package.

 Liberty Global also   expresses concerns about the cooperation amendment (Universal Services directive, Article 33.3 in the common position). In its statement, it says:

"... the Council Common Position still refers to a cooperation procedure requiring network

Read more: Telcos throw more wood on EU net neutrality fire



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 policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a 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 the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy (and related issues on 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.

Contact  me to use  iptegrity content for commercial purposes