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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.

In 2012, three years after the conclusion of the legislative process, I've been noticing references to something called the Telecom Reform Package. Having followed the policy since 2007, I was bit puzzled why I'd never seen it before, and in particular, why I would never call it that. Had I really missed the correct name of the policy I studied?

The answer is no, I hadn't, but people who are coming to fresh since 2009, are picking up on a confusing nomenclature when they try to check the official sources. Here's why!

If you want to give it the full, official name, pershaps you should use this:

Read more: What is the correct name for the 'Telecoms Package?'

Six members of the European Parliament have tabled AT&T's proposals to limit users access to the Internet.


Six MEPs have taken text supplied by the American telecoms multi-national, AT&T, and pasted it directly into amendments tabled to the Universal Services directive in the Telecoms Package. The six are Syed Kamall , Erika Mann, Edit Herczog , Zita Pleštinská , Andreas Schwab , and Jacques Toubon .

AT&T and its partner Verizon,   want the regulators in Europe to keep their hands-off new network technologies which will provide the capability for  broadband providers  to restrict or limit users access to the Internet.  They have got together with a group of other telecoms companies to lobby on this issue. Their demands  pose a threat to the neutrality of the network, and  at another level, to millions of web businesses in Europe.

The Universal Services directive is supposed to set out the rights of users and

Read more: Six MEPs table AT&T's Internet-limiting proposals

Political deals are being done which remove users rights to distribute Internet content, impose conditions on Internet access and which could permit broadband providers to limit access to a specified list of websites or a premium paid-for Internet. Net neutrality, and millions of Internet businesses, are under threat if this goes ahead.

***The next and final trialogue is Tuesday 24 March ***

Read more: How the EU is bargaining away the Internet


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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.