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Telecoms Package 2nd Reading

This section of iptegrity.com is devoted to analysing the Telecoms Package Second Reading in the European Parliament. In it, I have published articles, papers and analysis notes which took a critical look at the proposed texts and what they might have meant for European citizens and users, with a particular focus on the Internet and content issues.

The Telecoms Package was the review of European telecommunications framework legislation, (for full details please see the other section on iptegrity.com labelled Telecoms Package). Over 800 amendments were originally tabled to the two main directives involved - the so-called Better Regulation directive which incorporates the Framework, Access and Authoritisation directives - and the so-called Citizens Rights directive - which incorporates the Universal Services directive and the e-Privacy directive.

With so many amendments, covering such a broad scope of legislation, it is almost impossible for anyone, even specialists, to have a grasp of their meaning in real life. Let alone members of the European Parliament, for whom this is just one of many subjects, and where they are reliant on their assistants, who in turn rely on lobbyists. This is especially true since the real meaning of many amendments depends on how they are inter-linked with others. Following the chain of links, to figure out, is a complex task. However, when one does so, some serious consequences are being revealed.

The over-arching problem is that this is policy being made by changes in the law. The scope of the telecoms framework is being altered via often subtle wording changes in the amendments. The changing scope is de facto establishing policy, and by-passing the correct policy processes which have been established in the European Union.

To give an idea of the scale of the problem, one telecoms lawyer complained to me that he had 250 pages of documents to read through, in order to analyse the Package and do the job properly. What did he have? The Council compromise documents for the two main bundles in the Package - Better Regulation and Citizens rights - plus the Common position for reference. For those of us who have been with the Telecoms Package since the beginning, trawling through this amount of documentation is strangely normal. It also puts into perspective the enormity of the job for the European Parliament, and begs the question whether MEPs can really do it justice in the time allowed.

If you like the articles in this section and you are interested in Eu telecoms policy and the 2009 Telecoms Package, especially with regard to copyright enforcement policy, 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'

You may like my book The Closing of the Net which positions the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package in the wider policy context.

Details are now emerging of the Faustian pact by the European Parliament on Internet users rights.  It was agreed in a trialogue meeting between the rapporteurs Catherine Trautmann and Malcolm Harbour, and  the Council, last night.

 A new Recital and Amendment have replaced  Amendment 138, which is no longer there - in my opinion,  they have an entirely different meaning.   See below for an analysis .  NB this article has been amended on 1 May, with alternative analysis.


Catherine Trautmann and Malcolm Harbour, the two rapporteurs on the main Telecoms Package directives, have given in to the Council. The result is not good for Internet users, and will permit  blocking practices by network operators.   I have put below the new Recital and Article that Mrs Trautmann has agreed to replace Amendment 138. Emails have been forwarded around the European Parliament to say

Read more: Telecoms Package Internet sell-out now agreed

Harbour and Trautmann make a Faustian pact with the Council. Internet users rights  exchanged for an easy ride. Unless the  European Parliament flexes its muscle next week, this horrendous  Package will be law by June. And Mr Harbour -  rapporteur for the "users rights" directive  - complains that the users got in the way of his negotiations with industry. 


News agencies this evening are reporting a back-room deal in which the European Parliament has sold Internet users rights in favour of a bad law that the UK and French governments  want. It will also suit the large telecommunications companies, but smaller operators and other industries stand to lose out.  Amendment 138, voted by a majority in the committee vote last week, has been altered to facilitate a quasi-legal Hadopi,  in an about-face by the rapporteur Catherine Trautmann.   MEP Malcolm Harbour's UK-driven amendments to permit Internet blocking by network operators are now officially part of the Telecoms Package.


An AFP report says that Mrs Trautman has agreed to

Read more: Internet rights sold down the line by European Parliament

The latest agreement between the European Parliament and the Council reverses users rights in respect of the Internet, and confirms telcos right to block access at their discretion. Users lose their rights to digitally roam. Operators gain the right to block them.

Malcolm Harbour, rapporteur for the Universal Services Directive in the Telecoms Package, has reversed out users rights that were carried in a majority vote by the European Parliament last September. He proposes to replace Amendment 166 - Article 32(a) of the First Reading text, with a new text which states that telcos will not be prohibited from blocking users - see below. De facto, the new text means that telcos may block users, with immunity.

And it is the polar opposite of the original amendment that it is supposed to be replacing. Amendment 166 complements the

Read more: Harbour's Amendment 166 re-write reverses users rights

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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.