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Open Internet

Telecoms Package and Blackout Europe

The Telecoms Package was subject to very heavy lobbying by large telecoms companies over the right to shape internet traffic, and prioritise certain services over others. Of course, ‘traffic shaping’ can be entirely legitimate, but there are emerging worries as ISPs increasingly become content providers, and begin to have a vested interest in promoting internet traffic from their own services over traffic from external competitors.

Traditional telecoms companies won most of these arguments, this time around, but the ‘open internet’ or ‘net neutrality’ has registered as a major concern and something which the EU is prepared to legislate on. Time will tell if the warm words of commissioners translate into firm action.

La Quadrature du Net led European lobbying efforts, but ORG contributed by promoting a Facebook group and building a campaign website, Blackout Europe. The Facebook group attracted well over 20,000 members and helped co-ordinate pan-European action to contact MEPs.

One major victory was scored, over Amendment 138, which initially gave extremely strong protection to users from ‘three strikes’ and disconnection proposals. In the end, the compromise reached seems to give some strong protections, by preserving the need for fair prior legal process, but the effect of the new rights depends very much on our willingness to fight for them.