La Quadrature du Net : "Mr Minister, ..."

Translation of the letter sent by La Quadrature to the French minister in charge of the Telecoms Package, Luc Chatel.

Mr Minister,

On November 27th, the Council of the European Union will examine the project reforming electronic communications, also known as “Telecoms Package”, as amended by the European Parliament in its first reading last September 24th.

Protection of fundamental rights of European citizens using internet has become one of the major issues at stake of this law proposal.

After lengthy debates in the referred committees, and after the intervention of the EDPS, the independant European authority in charge of the protection of personal data, the European Parliament adopted a series of amendments to the Commission proposal. The MEPs wanted to guarantee that the current level of protection of the european citizens will be at least maintained by the Member States in the future.

But the main safeguard introduced by the Parliament − amendment 138 adopted by 88% of the MEPs − might be removed by the Council on November 27th, following a request from the French government. The French economic newspaper La Tribune has announced that French government has already managed to convince every other Member State to refrain from voting or to vote in favor of the removal of this amendment.

Nevertheless, as the European Commission underlined in an official memo, this amendment is “an important restatement of key legal principles of the Community legal order, especially of citizens' fundamental rights. It leaves Member States sufficient scope for reaching a fair balance between different fundamental rights, in particular the right to respect for private life, the right to protection of property, the right to an effective remedy and the right to freedom of expression and information.”

In its memo, the Commision stated that it would not ask for its removal, contrary to Nicolas Sarkozy's request to the President of the Commission.

The only reason for France to request the removal of this amendment is that it is opposed head on to the French law proposal “Creation and Internet” that aims at creating a special court for the Internet users whose account has been used to make unauthorised copies of music and movies1. It is also for France about legalising a posteriori an administrative decision authorising private companies to carry out some police missions on Internet, thus opposing the European policy on personal data.

Therefore, we ask you to oppose the removal of amendment 138 in order to respect, as the European Commision has done, the democratic vote of the European Parliament who has insisted on underlining that fundamental democratic principles, such as the principle of separation of powers or the principle of proportionality, also apply on Internet, at a time where the Member State assuming the presidency of the European Union seems to have forgotten it.

Failing which, everyone might assess your commitment in the construction of an Europe that protects the fundamental rights of its citizens and the reality of European Democracy.

Hoping that you will be able to act upon this issue, citizenly yours,


  • 1. For the record, the purpose of French law proposal “Creation and Internet” is to transfer repressive powers of the judiciary authority concerning copyright litigations to an administrative authority. Yet, amendment 138 underlines that such transfers could only be allowed when public security is threatened. Which is certainly not the case for an alleged copyright infringement.