European citizens: mobilize to block Sarkozy's "graduated response" at the Council!

A few weeks ago, the French law installing “graduated response” against Internet users was accepted by the French Senate1. In that law, an administrative authority orders, without any trial, Internet access cut (with impossibility to subscribe to a new access) to alleged file sharers. Nicolas Sarkozy showed strong determination into imposing this scheme to the whole Europe, using the French presidency of The European Union. Yet, amendment 138 to the European telecoms regulation law (“Telecoms Package”), voted by 88% of the European Parliament and approved by the Commission, might strike a final blow to his project. This is probably why the EU Council is now about to remove this amendment in a decision it will take on Nov. 27th. La Quadrature du Net invites all European citizens to write to their representatives in the Council in order to urge them to keep am. 138 into the “Package”. Its deletion would mean a major EU democratic failure, in the sole interest of the entertainment industries lobbies.

Sarkozy's dream for Europe countered by am.138

As soon as he became French President, Nicolas Sarkozy showed an obsession: fighting Internet file sharing by cutting off alleged infringers' Internet access, once they've been alerted twice - the “graduated response”, also called “3 strikes and you're out”. This project has raised considerable opposition.

As the draft law appeared in France, amendments were covertly introduced into the “Telecoms Package”. Thanks to European citizens' mobilization, provisions threatening ”Net neutrality”, weakening the protection of personal data and privacy or erecting the foundations of a 3 strikes approach were highlighted, confirmed by a thorough analysis of European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)2.

The threats are still present in the text voted by European Parliament in its first reading3. However, these threats have been countered by important user safeguards, notably Amendment 138 to the Framework directive4, supported by a huge cross-party majority − 88% of Members of European Parliament (MEPs)5.

“To be effective, the accusatory and punitive measures of the ‘graduated response’ should circumvent the judicial authority. That is clearly demonstrated by the French law, establishing a new administrative authority, leaving punished Internet users only little room for any recourse before a court, once the damage is done with their Internet access having been cut off. The object of amendment 138 is just a recall of the right to due trial.”, explains Jeremie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net (Squaring the Net).

A blatant attempt to bypass European Democracy

In the middle of October, N. Sarkozy wrote to the president of European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to ask him to remove amendment 138 from the text that was now to be agreed by EU Council6. Barroso declined this request7. The next step of the EU codecision procedure will be the first reading by the Council, where ministers of 27 Members States have to be convinced by French President on Nov 27th.

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 Nicolas Sarkozy's will, 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.

EU citizens' graduated response to Sarkozy through the Council

La Quadrature du Net calls European citizens to contact their ministers and national parliaments to inform them and to require from them a transparent position about fundamental democratic principles recalled by amendment 1388. “In the course of ‘Telecoms Package’, European citizens have already achieved some tremendous results: debunking this law project, alerting MEPs so they could understand what was at stake, pointing out where the threats were hidden and what could be the safeguards, etc. People from many European countries have already joined this effort. They showed the face of the actual democratic Europe. And they do it despite the maneuvers from those who are unaccountable at EU level: governments and lobbies from entertainment industries. Now, European citizens have to make themselves heard louder!”, concluded Zimmermann.

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