"Three strikes" in Europe, on Wednesday?

Paris, November 2nd, 2009 - The negotiations on the Telecoms Package might come to a close on Wednesday. The Council of the European Union is still pushing for "three strikes" policies in Europe but is also attempting to allow private corporations to restrict citizens' Internet access. Will the European Parliament continue to hide behind a disputable legal argumentation provided by the rapporteur Catherine Trautmann, and accept the unacceptable for the future of Internet access in Europe?

A campaign page1 has been set up to allow everyone to contact Members of the European Parliament and urge them to refuse any proposal from the Council allowing "three strikes" policies in Europe, and to explicitly protect EU citizens' freedom to access the Net.

The conciliation phase of the Telecoms Package could end on Wednesday, after the next meeting of the Conciliation delegation for the European Parliament and another interinstitutional "trialogue" meeting.

The new version of the compromise amendment presented by the Council of the EU still allows for restrictions of Internet access such as "three strikes" policies in Europe. Moreover, contrarily to the Parliament's version, the Council's proposal also permits private corporations to restrict Internet access,2, notably enabling entertainment industries to pressure Internet service providers in order to police the Net.

"The Council's position demonstrates that its aim is to obtain a wording compatible with 'three unproved alleged infringements and you are out of the Internet' mass sanction policies. Some countries want to install them by laws, others through privately operated mechanisms. The duty of the Parliament delegation is to make sure that only a wording that makes clear that the access to the Internet, a condition of freedom of expression in today's world, cannot be restricted in such a manner." comments Philippe Aigrain, strategy adviser for the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

Members of the delegation had on their desks all the elements3 to counter the arguments crafted by Mrs. Trautmann with the help of the EP's legal services in order to drop the strong protection of citizens voted twice by 88% of the Parliament. However, they decided to ignore them and missed out on the possibility of rewording4 the original amendment 138 to improve its language while preserving its core principles.

"So far, the will of rapporteur Trautmann to quickly wrap up the Telecoms Package was stronger than the Parliament's commitment to protecting citizens. The legitimacy of the negotiators and of the European Parliament as a whole is at stake. What will citizens think if after having seen their representatives defending them on two occasions before the elections, when they had everybody's attention, they now witness the Parliament giving in to the Council in closed-door meetings, by allowing 'three strikes' schemes and private police of the Net?" asks Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.