Telecoms Package: Europe which doesn't protect citizens?

Brussels, September the 16th - La Quadrature du Net / Squaring the Net took notice of compromise amendements [1] to the "Telecoms Package" [2] filed jointly by the 3 main political groups (PPE-DE, PSE and ALDE) in the name of the European Parliament commission in charge of the consumer protection.

La Quadrature du Net / Squaring the Net notes that EPP, PSE and ALDE haven't kept the recommendations made by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) [3]. They don't emphasise that the cooperation between ISP and publishers that they wish to promote "should not allow for the systematic and proactive surveillance of Internet usage", which was the main EDPS' fear.

Instead, EPP, PSE and ALDE are proposing a wording refering to "individual usages", which only protects private communications and therefore doesn't include the scanning of public electronic communications networks and, as the EDPS stressed to justify his wording to prevent a 3-strike approach in Europe : "In its opinion of 18 January 2005, the Article 29 Working Party, discussing this issue, stated that “While any individual obviously has the right to process judicial data in the process of his/her own litigation, the principle does not go as far as permitting in depth investigation, collection and centralisation of personal data by third parties, including in particular, systematic research on a general scale such as the scanning of the Internet (...). Such investigation falls within the competence of judicial authorities.”"

To put it clearly, for the European authorities in charge of the protection of personal data, the automated collection of IP adresses on a large scale in order to file alleged offenders is a judicial matter, even if the IP adress wasn't obtained through the surveillance of a individual usage but by accessing shared files. EPP, PSE and ALDE omitted this protecting aspect of european law for the protection of private data in their wording, leaving an open gate to the privatisation of police missions on the Internet, whic is required by the 3-strikes approach [4].

Lobbies who are pushing for the 3-strikes approach do not try to hide this objective: they want to act themselves like police without being approved by a judge.

In a letter sent yesterday to Members of Euorpean Parliament (MEPs), these organisations have stated explicitely that they want to update European Law, arguing that ''"since initial rules on electronic communications have been adopted in 2002, network operators and eletronic communications service providers have systematically used them to refuse any cooperation with victims of online unlawful acts. Instead, they have suggested that any victim should ask to the police. Such a suggestion, far from being perfect for everybody, do not take into account limited ressources of the police and priorities of criminal justice."'' [5]

Therefore, la Quadrature du Net / Squaring the Net is strongly concerned with the way proposed by these political groups, which consists in following lobbies instead of authorities in charge of the protection of personal data. Moreover this amendment is only the tip of the iceberg [6].

During last meeting of Committee on civil liberties (LIBE), the rapporteur Alexander Alvaro (ALDE, Spain) has said he was ready and willing to question that IP address are personal data, and therefore to ignore EPDS opinion. Finally, compromise decisions on directives which Catherine Trautmann (PSE, France) is responsible for, are still ignored.

Yet, it is in one of the directives followed by Catherinne Tratmann where are listed the missions of the national regulation authorities, and some missions considered are under the realm of judicial authorities, like wheteher a content is lawful, or wheteher a restriction to freedom of speech is justified.

Citizens may have the chance that all the amendements may be known before Friday for a vote on Tuesday, mainly if a NGO manage to get them. Otherwise, they'll have to wait for them to be put online on the European Parliament website, which will leave only the week-end and Monday to analyse them and contact their MEP.

Therefore, there is a major risk for the attempt to hijack the Telecoms Package started several months ago[7] by the music and movies industies to succeed and for the 3-strike approach to be spread all across Europe.

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