EU set to vote to remove neutrality from the net, give ISPs and govts the power to arbitrarily block site

Carsten sez, "On May 5, thus in only two weeks, the politicians in Brussels will vote on a package of laws regulating the Internet in EU countries. This is the so-called telecoms package. If the lobbyists' and bureaucrats' version is adopted, ISPs will be able to arbitrarily block sites to their customers, and governments will be able to impose three-strikes measures without involving the judiciary. A group of MEPs, among them the Swede Eva-Britt Svensson, are proposing some amendments which will effectively table a set of digital 'Citizen's Rights' which will effectively prohibit filtering and cutoffs unless as decided in a courtroom with adequate cause/proof. If the Citizens' Rights amendments are accepted, Europeans will gain important safeguards, if not, lobbies and governments and Network Neutrality-bashing ISPs will get a free ride."

Tell the European Parliament to vote against conditional access to the Internet! (Thanks, Carsten!)


  1. Late last year I did some pro bono work for the Open Rights Group analysing an earlier version of the Telecoms Package (see the ORG press release here). What really struck me as I compared the competing amendments was the far-reaching effect that just a few sentences within a hundred-page legislative package could have.

    It doesn’t take very long to say that any process for disconnecting ISP users must be compliant with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a fair and open trial. Equally, it doesn’t take long to delete those words and instead say that EU national governments are to ‘align the interests’ – or some other innocuous-sounding phrase – of ISPs and rights-holder industry groups.

    At the time, sense prevailed and efforts to remove safeguards failed. But the EU legislative process is slow, bureaucratic and repetitive, and in many ways we are back where we were then. The language of the proposals is different but the competing agendas are the same. I urge any EU citizen reading this to contact his or her MEP to explain the importance of voting for the accountable and transparent rule of law to be applied to internet access.

    More good resource sites: La Quadrature du Net and IPTegrity

  2. Interestingly I have received replies from my MEPs contradicting everything that has been said here and elsewhere about the purpose of this legislation so I am now incredibly confused and don’t have the means to identify exactly what the heck this really means.

  3. Question:

    Where on the official EU website, or whatever, does it say they are going to vote about this? I couldn’t find anything about it.

    Also I would have expected the ‘EFF europe’ site to scream a call to arms, so to speak. Again, nothing.

  4. Where on the official EU website, or whatever, does it say they are going to vote about this?

    This is the agenda for May 5 for the European Parliament. As always, the language is not very intelligible as it is sauced in Brussels-speak.

    I don’t know about EFF Europe, but as I believe they no longer have a permanent lobbyist in Brussels, they may be less active on this front. Note that several important organizations, including EDRI and FFII, are behind “Blackout Europe” site to which Cory links.

  5. This pisses me off greatly, and I’d like to write to my person in Brussels, but that site you link to is absolutely useless in figuring out who exactly that is.

  6. Hello again,

    Maybe I’m all cute and rookie-like for giving it a shot but I’m trying to locate in official EU documents/proposals the content that will undermine net neutrality. However I wasn’t able to find anything by google-ing, and neither by starting from… (thanks Agger)

    …and ploughing through directives and amendments and what-not (yegh!). Nothing shocking about ‘amendment 138’ that has got everybody so worked up.

    Of course my background is in IT, not legal-stuff. But still…

    I feel the need to participate in keeping the internet open, and I believe in staying alert. Also I’d like my (lazy) fellow IT friends/colleagues to do the same. But I feel I’ve got nothing to ‘sell’, so to speak. All I know is from various blogs. And if I bring those up they’ll propbably just shrug. I believe I need something tangible. Ergo, the whole tormenting myself with the official stuff/crap.

    Any suggestions how to get started?

  7. Berend,

    Simon Bradshaw made a point earlier:

    “It doesn’t take very long to say that any process for disconnecting ISP users must be compliant with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to a fair and open trial. Equally, it doesn’t take long to delete those words and instead say that EU national governments are to ‘align the interests'”

    The language of these proposals is extremely convoluted, and every word carries enormous possibilities of interpretation.

    The wording of the proposed Citizen’s Rights amendments say that it ” intends to ensure that restrictions to the right to freedom of expression and
    information as provided in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union will not
    be imposed without a prior ruling of the judicial authorities [and unless it is absolutely necessary and
    justified by the relevant principles and rules of law].”

    OTOH, the lobbyists proposal contain convoluted expressions to the effect that member countries or ISPs may “take steps” to protect against “unlawful behaviour”, limit access to certain services (case in point: Skype), etc.

    You may very well have read the points which threaten the ‘net as we know it and missed them.

    For a readable explanation, read this blog post by an American law professor:

  8. Once again, here’s something to “sell”:

    “Readers in Europe who care about keeping the Internet relatively neutral need to express that opinion to policymakers in the European Parliament by April 29. In particular, it is inexplicable why the Green Party is on the sidelines and not actively supporting the Citizens’ Rights Amendments that have been tabled to restore users’ rights that were in an earlier version of the gargantuan Telecoms Package making its way through the European Parliament. Erik Josefsson is a leading proponent of these amendments, and he is hosting PDF versions of the amendments Part I, Part II and Part III on his site.

    The magic numbers in this debate have been 138 and 166. These are the two amendments that initially were hailed in the US press as recognizing access to the Internet as a fundamental right, countering French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to require service providers to impose the Internet death penalty on users found to have infringed intellectual property rights three times.

    Lobbying by representatives of corporate and professional rights owners – remember there is no group dedicated solely to lobbying on behalf of the millions of amateur creators who also are rights owners under copyright – has led to a reversal of this position As Monica Horten reports, the current versions of Amendment 138 and Amendment 166 would allow for imposition of the Internet death penalty and non-neutral network management.

    The Citizens’ Rights Amendments have been tabled to reverse these back-room deals and to clarify the original position concerning users’ rights.

    While it is of course up to European citizens to decide for themselves what regulations they want to live under, as a participant in a global network, I hope that those who support the cause of citizens’ rights will mobilize to establish those rights in law.”

  9. Utterly sickening.

    The rise of the EU totalitarian Ãœber state is in full swing.

    To even CONTEMPLATE this kind of legislation is ridiculous enough, however the lobby nazi’s are at it again and it’s is clear why:

    The internet provides a truly free communication system, and governments realise that their propaganda and control of information is no longer realisticly maintainable whilst intelligent bloggers offer rational arguments and opinions that frankly put the corporate media to shame. We are getting to know too much and analyse information. The internet world is onto the conjob maintained by the elite, and this is simply a radical threat to their sense of power.

    The web must remain free for every individual, from the genius to the moron, all have a strange and valuable contribution to the human knowledge base. This is purely an attempt to stop people’s access to complex information pertaining to our political reality and particuarly, our history.

    If these laws pass, their perpetrators must be bought to trial, one way or another.

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