Published by Natalie Smith on Jul 25, 2008
A TELECOMTV CAMPAIGN MANIFESTO
THE INTERNET IN EUROPE IS UNDER ATTACK! DEFEND IT NOW!
Web surfers of the world unite, that way you may not lose your data privacy, your on-line anonymity… and your Internet connection.
There is currently a concerted attempt to attack and ‘tame’ the Internet in Europe on behalf of entrenched vested commercial interests. It isn’t a full-frontal assault, out in the open with weapons clearly visible and identifiable uniforms on display. This is a sneaky hit and run job and the danger is that European ISPs and Internet users will be outflanked and overwhelmed before they know what has happened.
The European Parliament is working on what’s being called the ‘telecoms package’. But, don’t be fooled by the benign-sounding title, this is not the legislative equivalent of a parcel of Christmas or Birthday goodies. Amongst the many, many amendments (800 plus in fact) to existing chunks of European telecom-related legislation are at least three measures that will have the effect of removing the immunity ISPs’ currently enjoy over both the material passing through their networks and the behaviour of their users on it. At TelecomTV we believe this is a bad move that will have the most serious repercussions in due course.
This new legislation (known by supporters as the ‘copyright hooks’) is being pushed for by the global music and film industries – a group of seasoned, special-interest lobby groups well-versed in the black arts of political persuasion. In a word, all this is about Copyright.
We prefer to call it Copywrong.
These measures, if passed, will chip away at ISPs’ current ‘mere conduit’ status by making it possible for national governments to pass laws – or allow civil actions – to force ISPs to co-operate with authorities or other interested parties (such as the music and film industries) and disclose information on users and their online behaviour. At TelecomTV, we believe this is fundamentally wrong and will damage Internet neutrality along with European citizens’ civil rights and liberties.
At present, under established European e-Commerce legislation, ISPs have a status as « mere conduits » for the transmission of data across their networks. They neither have to know nor need to know what is passing by them, they simply act as the transportation mechanism. This has the effect of protecting individual rights and liberties on the World Wide Web.
If the package is passed in September it could enable a new set of obligations to trickle down via national legislation such that Internet Service Providers could find themselves being sued in a civil court by content providers. If the package is passed as it stands, not just individuals but entire families could be disenfranchised from the digital world and economy by having access to the Internet withdrawn as a result of some twisted iteration of the appalling French proposition of a ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ law.
What to do?
At TelecomTV we are lobbying the European Parliament to strike down the three most egregious measures (the ‘copyright hooks’) when it comes to vote on the package in late September. We call these measures the 3 strikes against the Internet. They are:
Strike One: an amendment (under Annex 1.19) that would oblige ISPs to ‘co-operate’ with other parties to enforce copyright.
Strike Two: an amendment (under the provisions of Article 26) that would oblige ISPs to include a clause or clauses in their contracts with their end-user customers relating to copyright matters and regularly be required to distribute « public interest information » to users including details about « the most common uses of electronic communications services to carry out unlawful activities or to disseminate harmful content. «
Strike Three: a requirement under Amendment 19 that national telecoms regulators be required to protect copyright.
There are more than 800 tabled amendments to the Telecoms Package and only a few relate to changes in the status quo of ISPs and copyright. However, some of them, specifically those appended in Annex 1.19, have actually been tabled by the EU’s College of Commissioners themselves (including Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for information Society and Media). Furthermore, the relevant sections are hidden away in a truly massive set of documents and debate on them will be minimal.
We are extremely concerned about these proposed legislative changes and the effects they might have.
If the telecoms package is passed ISPs will be well on the way to losing their « mere conduit » status and will be required to monitor and police their networks and block websites and peer-to-peer exchanges in ways that are currently prohibited. Furthermore, a loose and shifting confederation of unaccountable content providers would be able to force ISPs either to suspend or even completely terminate the Internet access of suspected filesharers.
There can be no doubt that the amendments proposed in the Telecoms Package will result in the loss of individual freedom and privacy on the Internet and will breach the fundamental principles of human rights in Europe. Furthermore, new legislation could result in « mission creep » whereby, somewhere down the line, wider commercial censorship and even insidious political censorship could be enforced.
It is time to stop the rot right now!
We have until September this year to make ourselves heard. Debate on the package by the Parliament in plenary session has been set for September 2nd. The actual voting is scheduled to take place on September 22,23, 24 and 25.
There is still time to do something about it!
Sign the ‘Throttle the Package’ petition on TelecomTV.
Email your MEP and express your concerns about the proposals.
Act now! When your children ask you, « What did you do in the Great Battle for the Internet, Daddy? » you don’t want to have to say « Nothing” now do you?
PLEASE SUPPORT US BY SIGNING TELECOM TV’s ONLINE PETITION. THE FUTURE IS IN YOUR HANDS. THANK YOU.
– An amendment (under Annex 1.19) which would oblige ISPs to ‘co-operate’ with other parties to enforce copyright.
– Amendments (under the provisions of Article 260 and Article 21 of the revised Universal Access Directive and their supporting Recitals – 12c, and 14) which would oblige ISPs to include a clause or clauses in their contracts with their end-user customers relating to copyright matters and regularly be required to distribute « public interest information » to users including details about « the most common uses of electronic communications services to carry out unlawful activities or to disseminate harmful content. «
– A requirement (Culture committee – Guardans – Opinion, Amendment 19) on the national telecoms regulator to protect copyright. for « co-operation » between ISPs and rights-holders (Article 33, 2a of the Universal Access directive, and Article 1, point 8 point e of the Framework directive).
The Throttle The Package! A TelecomTV Campaign petition to European Parliament / MEPs was written by Natalie Smith and is hosted free of charge at GoPetition.