November 13, 2008 | Becky Hogge

Council of Ministers move to delete vital safeguards from EU Telecoms Package

Update (17/11/08): Write to your UK representatives today! French campaigners La Quadrature du Net have today launched a letter-writing campaign to urge Council of Ministers delegates from each of the European Member States to honour amendments passed by the European Parliament that ensure only proportionate and just sanctions against illicit filesharing can be proposed by national governments. From their press release:

"Should amendment 138 be removed from the Telecoms Package by the Council, it would show to the whole of Europe that the technocratic structure can be used by the executive branch to bypass the democratic expression of the Parliament. Such an acceptance of the will of Nicolas Sarkozy, to serve the interest of a very few lobbies from the entertainment industries, would be a very sad example of the failure of European Democracy."

More information about the Quadrature du Net's campaign to save amendment 138 is available here.

If you're living in the UK and you'd like to take part in the campaign, write to your MP and ask them to pass on your concerns to the relevant official, and/or write directly to Stephen Carter, Minister for Commnications, Technology and Broadcasting, and Shiriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness, both at BERR (Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET). Feel free to leave a copy of your letter in the comments to this post.

You can find resources for your letter in this legal brief [pdf] (which has a 9 point summary at the end), in ORG's submission to BERR's recent consultation on domesitc proposals to combat illict filesharing [pdf], and on the Quadrature du Net's wiki. The Council of Ministers will meet on 27 November, so it's vital you get in touch with UK representatives as soon as possible.

With thanks to ThisIsIt2Back in September MEPs responded to public concerns over the EU Telecoms Package by voting through vital safeguards that would help ensure that only proportionate and just sanctions against illicit filesharing could be proposed by national governments. Since then, you'd be forgiven for thinking your internet connection was safe from disconnection via corporate fiat.

However, deep inside the belly of Brussels, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission have been amending the European Parliament's adopted text. Crucially, they've been arguing over whether to remove the very safeguards MEPs fought hard to include against the so-called "3 strikes and you're out" plans favoured by the French. The result is a high level of uncertainty, underpinned by a forest of papers and amended texts that even the toughest legal minds might have trouble unpicking.

We're lucky, then, that cyberlaw expert and ORG Advisory Council member Professor Lilian Edwards, together with her former student and now trainee barrister Simon Bradshaw, have been scrutinising the ongoing negotiations process, and the resulting proposed texts. In a 14-page paper [.pdf] analysing the various Directives that make up the Telecoms Package (as amended by Parliament in September) and the reactions to these amendments from the Council of Ministers and the Commission, they conclude:

"On the basis of our analysis it is clear that the package does, or at least can, provide a mandatory basis for the "warnings" part of a French-style connection sanctions law (the "strikes") (see para 12 of brief), and also potentially provides a means by which public CSPs (ISPs and the like) can be compelled by the national regulator to work with ("promoting cooperation") rightsholders to implement a disconnection scheme (the "you're out" – see para 19 of brief). Wording in various places of the latest version seems to confirm that this "co-operation" is a more extensive obligation than simply providing copyright-related public interest information.

"This is a crucial set of obligations, about to be imposed on all of Europe's ISPs and telcos, which should be debated in the open, not passed under cover of stealth in the context of a vast and incomprehensible package of telecoms regulation. It seems, on careful legal examination by independent experts, more than possible that such a deliberate stealth exercise is indeed going on."

Negotiations are ongoing and Edwards and Bradshaw promise to update the brief as developments occur. You can download the full brief here.

Comments (6)

  1. Jens O. » Blog Archive » Sätt klackarna i backen mot, IPRED1/Telekompaketet:
    Nov 15, 2008 at 07:39 AM

    [...] **Council of Ministers move to delete vital safeguards from EU Telecoms Package** [pdf] [...]

  2. Nicole Mathison:
    Nov 25, 2008 at 05:18 PM

    I emailed Baroness Vadera and Mr. Carter directly, may be polite to use correct titles,

  3. Hugh Hancock:
    Nov 20, 2008 at 05:21 PM

    Contact details for the relevant MPs:

    In order to contact the two people whom I believe are on the committee voting on the Amendment, you'll need to use the following email addresses, according to the nice receptionist at BERR:

    Stephen Carter : mpst.carter {at)

    Shiriti Vadera: mpst.vadera {at)

  4. Boycott Novell » Links 17/11/2008: Many Distribution Releases, SourceForge Sued:
    Nov 17, 2008 at 12:38 PM

    [...] Council of Ministers move to delete vital safeguards from EU Telecoms Package [...]

  5. Naczelny Kartofel:
    Apr 28, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    The Telecoms Package is a proposal from EU Commission

    It says more or less the Internet will be divided into zones and as much one pays that much access to certain areas of the Internet the one will have.

    The idea of insane people ..

    Networks as Bitnet then the Internet have been invented by scientists, first mainly for scientists to exchange scientific information. What you do to our tools is crazy.

    Think first! Invent something yourself and then introduce your censorship by packages in your own area. But .. are you able to invent something at all you dumb idiots writing that proposal for the EU Commission?

    You have no right to do that this way by Telecoms Package.

    Obviously students, scientists and teachers are the most poor people in this EU, so they could not afford paying for the packages.

    Who will benefit? The rich pigs lawyers and so on who can invent censorship, packages and laws convenient to them only, same as Stalin, Kadafi, Hussein, Jaruzelski, Hitler and so on ..

    Guys you start acting as Stalin's communists or Hitler's nasci bandits. Do you need the "iron curtains"? Do you want another war?

    From here is a one step to small police countries instead of having United Europe, police countries same as for example Poland where policemen were cooperating with mafia, were earning twice or four times more than scientists, where the policemen could rape, kill etc. and almost nobody could touch them because those bandits in uniforms had guns, were getting money for new radars, cars and weapons from the EU, whilst there was almost no money for science development and new technologies development in that region of the EU.

    Do you know how much an assistant professor or a lecturer/senior lecturer earns in Poland? About 500-700 EUR/ month after tax and prices have almost been the same in western countries as in Poland.

    What would German, Irish or British people with a doctorate do for that money? I guess that would be their unemployment benefit if they do nothing at all.

    Think how people in Central and Eastern Europe i.e. Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia etc. could afford those packages? That would ruin those countries. Is that what they want? Do they need people in Eastern Europe saying the communism was better?

    Please think instead how to make currencies of the new EU members in the Central and Eastern Eaurope more stable in order to allow them to access the EUR currency zone ASAP!!!

    Many people in those countries because of a regional currency devaluation by 50%-100% within half of a year have enough of the EU help and the EU politics leading to more and more poverty in those regions within the recent year.

    What those EU Commission people do nowadays is trying to introduce censorship projects dividing EU information. Tourists are not allowed to take photos in London etc. What would be next if nobody stops them?

    After the Internet zones for the chosen people who can pay more than others for accessing certain Internet zones perhaps again toilets in Europe Nur Fur Deutsche, Only for British, Only for Irish, Only for French etc.

    Please do not spend our heavily earned money for idiots from the EU commission writing stupid proposals. Give us some more money for science and new technologies development because China in robotics, car engineering, microelectronics, software and tools development become much better than Europeans who are now some 10 years behind Japan, and some 5 years behind the USA in modern technologies development.

    Do you want us to be 30 years behind them after dividing the Internet into zones? And please stop telling us that is against piracy! Do you think we are idiots?!

    We have similar to the Telecoms Package existing example called the iTunes services, servers and software. We are not allowed by the iTunes in Eastern European part of the EU to buy songs of British or American vocalists with Worldwide valid credit cards. I wanted to buy wonderful songs of a young British, talented vocalist Kate Fletcher ( ) on iTunes and I simply could not from Poland because the service said the songs were not available in the Polish store for Poles. Would it be an advantage? To whom?

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