The “Telecoms Package”: out of the shadows, into the light

On Monday, July 7th, the IMCO and ITRE committees of the European Parliament passed the review of European telecommunications law known as "Telecoms Package". All of the amendments damaging to the Internet, that were condemmed by la Quadrature du Net and numerous organizations, have been voted through.

La Quadrature du Net (Squaring the Net) continues to maintain that these amendments aim to close the open architecture of the Internet, with the result that there will be increased surveillance of users. They open the way to the regulation of users via the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under the control of national regulators, instead of a judiciary authority. They directly attack net neutrality by allowing these operators to constrain legal activities of users (such as the use of free software), in order to promote their own services or those of companies dominant in the market for content or software.

However, La Quadrature du Net is delighted to see the strong citizen mobilization which emerged in parallel with this committee vote. Thousands of European citizens have written to MEPs. The European press has actively covered the vote. Numerous MEPs became aware of the stakes and the threats to infringe on basic rights, the open architecture of the Internet, Free Software, competitivity and European informational sovereignty.

During the session, many MEPs have underlined the importance of citizen mobilization and how it helped to highlight many problematic elements of the Package, such as privacy. Others have complained about getting the messages, undoubtedly upset to see that their proposals did not meet the public’s expectations.

Some of the European Parliament rapporteurs on the Telecoms Package have also re-read their proposals and admitted that, when viewed in the overall context, they were problematic and should be reworked before the final plenary vote .

We are pleased with the impact our campaign has made, but also disappointed that IMCO committee MEPs have adopted amendments they know to be damaging or that they could not study at length.

How else can one explain that shadow rapporteurs tried to orally amend, as an emergency measure, compromise amendments they had accepted shortly before? And how a member of the Parliamentary Committee could take note of compromise amendments that were unknown before he entered the session?

But we are pleased to see that today that several MEPs, including rapporteurs of the IMCO Committee, request a postponement of the Telecoms Package vote in the plenary, in order to have more time to examine it. They particularly wish to delete certain amendments adopted in LIBE Committee that La Quadrature du Net has denounced as particularly threatening to privacy. Others want to reintroduce judicial authority into the measures, which is essential, as the effective protection of the net neutrality.

"The dialogue between users and MEPs is really gratifying, as awareness on these issues that takes place in many parliamentary groups. It is, of course difficult for an elected official to acknowledge that the amendments he has tabled, intertwined with those of colleagues from other groups are catastrophic. But I can not believe that once informed, the European Parliament does not correct itself." said Christophe Espern, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.

La Quadrature du Net therefore calls upon the citizens to continue to contact MEPs to invite them to ask their parliamentary group presidents to postpone the vote in plenary, normally scheduled on September 2, to October. MEPs must have the time to study this complex and transversal dossier, and so must citizens.

Five directives are modified by three framework directives and more than a thousand amendments have been tabled so far. Many weeks, excluding Parliamentary holidays, are needed to identify all the problems and prepare amendments that effectively protect the rights of citizens and the open architecture of the Internet.

La Quadrature du Net will soon publish a detailed analysis of the finally adopted amendments.