Digital Civil Rights in Europe

Article published in EDRi-gram 7.8

The ITRE – Industry, Research and Energy Committee of the European Parliament (EP) has voted in the evening of 21 April 2009 on the Trautmann report and has reintroduced amendment 138. However some of the amendments approved by the ITRE committee are still endangering the network neutrality principle.

The ITRE Committee reinstated by 40 votes in favour with four votes against the Parliament’s first-reading amendment 138 that now has been renumbered as amendment 46 that states that “no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of endusers, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened in which case the ruling may be subsequent.”

This vote means that there is a clear disagreement on this topic between the EP and the Council and, after the plenary vote on 5 May, a third reading might be necessary after the European elections. Also the negotiations between MEPs and the Czech Presidency to reach an agreement on this issue will continue.

The success of the European Parliament’s Committe is putting pressure on the French government that will find it more difficult to push its 3 strikes law against a European directive ready to be adopted by the European Parliament. According to Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net: “The European citizens will remember this courageous stand. Members of the European parliament honoured their mandates by standing courageously for citizens’ rights and freedoms. This is one more blow to Nicolas Sarkozy’s ‘three strikes’ or ‘HADOPI’ law in France, and a strong sign that nobody in Europe will want to pass such a stupid legislation going against progress, citizens’ rights and common sense.”

MEP Guy Bono also rejected the French Government position: “If the French Government wants a deal on the Telecom Package, it has to give up, in the name of the general European interest, to the liberticide provisions of the draft Hadopi Law”.

But the ITRE committee also voted some amendments that endanger the network neutrality without any relevant debate. As Monica Horten from explains: “the UK government’s amendments which seek to permit broadband providers to place restrictions on their networks, and offer preferential services without any oversight by the regulator, have found their way into Mrs Trautmann’s final draft.”

These amendments contain the text: “any conditions limiting access to and/or use of services and applications where such conditions are allowed by Member states in conformity with Community law”

Ms. Horten highlights: “Article 9.1 Access directive and Annexe 1 point 19 Authorisation directive are about limiting users access to the Internet. Article 8.2 and 8.4 support these provisions, by weaking users rights – indeed, it is no longer a right, rather users may simply be offered the ability to choose, which could be interpreted that they have the ability to choose between different packages of limitations.”

The deadlock on amendment 138 could mean that a third reading might be required and that would provide more comments and debates on those amendments that endanger the network neutrality. But this depends also on the plenary amendments that need to be presented by 29 April and on the vote of the plenary which could take place on 5 May.

If you want to support the network neutrality please contact your MEPs before the plenary vote and support the Open Letter that EDRi has signed in order to keep the principle of no discrimination between Internet traffic data, based on content, services or applications.

Open letter to the European Parliament – Telecom Package (17.02.2009)

Trautmann Report…

Telecom markets: still no overall agreement with Council presidency (21.04.2009)…

Amendment 138 saved – but not the Internet (21.04.2009)…

Victory for EU Citizens! Amendment 138 was voted again. (21.04.2009)…

Bono amendment finally reintroduced in the Telecom Package! (only in French, 21.04.2009)…

Trautmann: “I assure you I am not ready to give up” (only in French, 21.04.2009)

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