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Surprise, surprise, consumer protection à la Bruxelles.

MEPs want to torpedo the Free Internet on July 7th

Brussels, July 1st, 2008 - updated : July 2nd, 2008
One week before a key vote in the reform of European law on electronic communications ("Telecoms Package"), La Quadrature du Net (Squaring the Net) denounces a series of amendments aimed at closing the open architecture of the Internet for more control and surveillance of users.

European Internet users could be blocked from lawful activities by mandatory spyware, in the interests of their security. The right to use free software for internet access would therefore not be assured anymore. The neutrality of the Internet is also directly attacked, as is the principle that technical intermediaries have no obligation to prior surveillance of contents. Other amendments will de facto enable administrative authorities to obligate ISPs to work with content producers and rights-holders' private police, including the sending of intimidating messages, with no judicial or regulatory oversight.
These measure goes further than the French "graduated response" project, which has been subject to widespread opposition, including by the European Parliament on April 10th. That is undoubtedly why those amendments have turned up on early july, and why those drafting them use subtle rhetoric and crossed-references to make the overall text harder to understand (more than 800 amendements on 5 directives were tabled).

"The politicians who engage in these summer manoeuvres dishonour Europe and their mandate. They rely on the fact that nobody watches them a week before Parliamentary holiday, to divert the Telecoms package from its primary objectives of consumer protection. They pave the way for the monitoring and filtering of the Internet by private companies, exceptional courts and orwellian technical measures. It is inconceivable for freedom but also for European economic development. We call on all MEPs to oppose what they have already rejected." said Christophe Espern, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net (Squaring the Net).

Netzpolitik.org summarises thus:


  • A very complex law (5 directives, more than 800 amendments), and crucial votes on the beginning of the summer in a very opaque process.

  • Various amendements (from Mavromatis, Guardans, Harbour, Trautmann, etc.) seem to do the opposite of the announced goal of the text of increasing the consumer protection.

That I'd call a trojan law, then.

See also futurezone@orf.at: EU-Pläne bedrohen das freie Internet


The ‘Telecoms Package’ and the copyright amendments – a European legal framework to stop downloading, and monitor the Internet / by Monica Horten, PhD researcher in European communications policy at University of Westminster, Communications and Media Research Institute. – Draft, 2008-06-30

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 05:23:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good catch.

This is far more serious than the journalistic neutrality bill.

How likely is it to pass?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 04:37:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this what we're talking about?

European Parliament: Telecom Package: overhauling EU rules (Free movement of services - 07-05-2008 - 11:05)

EU legislation needs to be updated to keep pace with the rapid progress in the market and technologies of the electronic communications industry internet, fixed line and mobile telephone. Two committees of the European Parliament are sharing this legislative workload: the Internal Market Committee focuses on universal service provision and consumer rights while the Industry Committee deals with other aspects of the telecoms package.

Both committees debated these issues with about 20 industry and consumer experts on Tuesday.

Industry Committee: ensure investments in next-generation networks

...

Set up a small, streamlined "Body of European Regulators in Telecoms" (BERT)

...

Internal Market Committee: experts' views

...

Better information for consumers

...

Easier access to emergency numbers

...

I think a lot more attention needs to be paid to what goes on in the commitees.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 04:57:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at the details, this looks like more hysteria:

Amendment  H1,  Harbour  : Allows  national  regulation  authorities  and  the  
Commission  to  establish  standards  which  restrict  the  running  of  lawful applications and  lawful  services and  access  and  distribution  of lawful content.

A national  regulatory authority may  issue guidelines setting minimum quality of  service
requirements, and, if appropriate, take other measures, in order to prevent degradation of
services  and  slowing  of  traffic  over  networks,  and  to  ensure  that  the  ability  of  users  to access or  distribute lawful  content  or  to run lawful  applications and services of  their choice  is  not  unreasonably  restricted.  Those  guidelines  or  measures  shall  take  due
account of any standards issued under article 17 of Directive 2002/121EC (Framework
directive).

The  Commission  may  having  examined  such  guidelines  or  measures  and  consulted
[XXX],  adopt  technical  implementing measures in that  regards if  it  considers that  the
guidelines  or  measures  may  create  barrier  to  the  internal  market. Theses  measures
designed  to  amend  non-essential  elements  of  this  directive  by  supplementing  it,  shall  be
adopted  in  accordance  with  the  regulatory  procedure  with  scrutiny  referred  to  in  article
37(2).

This is basically a call for DRM for both software and content, and possibly bandwidth caps on file sharing.

But DRM exists already, and so do bandwidth caps. Measures like these are always unenforceable in practice because it would mean data monitoring at the OS level. Considering what a disaster that has been in Vista, and considering how much iTunes sucks, and considering how easy it is to rip CDs and DVDs without DRM, and considering that there is no reliable DRM technology, it's not going to happen. I can't see Linux being outlawed just yet, especially when some governments are looking at Open Source options to save cash.

Para 2 is more worrying, because it could be read as a net neutrality Trojan, depending on how generous your definition of 'lawful' is.

But I'm not convinced yet that this is a serious push to give corporate content bandwidth priority, or that the support exists to make any such push a reality.

Article 2 ­ point 5 a (new)
Directive 2002/58/EC
Article 14 ­ paragraph 1
(5a) In Article 14, paragraph 1 shall be replaced by the following:
1. In implementing the provisions of this Directive, Member States shall ensure,
subject  to paragraphs 2 and 3,  that  no  mandatory requirements for specific  technical
features
, including, without limitation, for the purpose of detecting,intercepting or preventing  
infringement  of  intellectual  property  rights  by  users, are  imposed  on  terminal  or  other
electronic communication equipment which could impede the placing of equipment on
the market and the free circulation of such equipment in and between Member States.

For information paragraph 2 and 3 mentionned in this paragraph 1 :
2. Where provisions of  this Directive can be implemented only by requiring specific technical
features in electronic communications networks, Member States shall inform the Commission
in  accordance  with  the  procedure  provided  for  by  Directive  98/34/EC  of  the  European
Parliament  and of  the Council  of  22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of  
information  in  the  field  of  technical  standards  and  regulations  and  of  rules  on  information
society ser vices(9).
3.  Where  required,  measures  may  be  adopted  to  ensure  that  terminal  equipment  is
constructed in a way that is compatible with the right of users to protect and control the use of
their personal data
, in accordance with Directive 1999/5/EC and Council Decision 87/95/EEC
of  22  December  1986  on  standardisation  in  the  field  of  information  technology  and
communications(10).

This is 'If there are measures, they have to be standardised across the EU and can't be seen as restriction of trade.'

It's almost redundant given the previous amendment.

I'm not seeing suggestions here for institutional government monitoring of all data, or blanket crack-downs on file sharing. If there are proposals to do that, they're not in these amendments.

File sharing can't be stopped, because if someone is prosecuted for file sharing legal files - which is always possible - these amendments mean there's no legal case against them.

If I upload one of my own songs to Demonoid, and people download it, it's going to be hard to persuade any court that laws have been broken.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 05:35:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If someone tried to declare Open Source applications in general or Linux in particular "unlawful" I'd hope they'd be laughed out of the room in any case.


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 05:43:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The draft report consists entirely of amendments to the directive - I don't see anything about "lawful" "content" or "software".

The entire "codecision" file is here. This is a first reading of the original Commission proposal.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 05:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't find this on the draft agenda for the July 7-10 part-session in Strasbourg.

So this must be a vote in committee.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 05:20:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed, here is the agenda.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 05:25:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here are the Committees' pages:
Navigation: on the left margin of each committee page you'll find links to
  • Introduction
  • Members
  • Contacts
  • Publications
  • Useful links
The list of members might be the most useful to "write to your MEP".

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 05:32:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DIary now up: Net Neutrality in danger in the EU by rz.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 3rd, 2008 at 06:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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