The Telecom Package was suppose to be a legislative process for the European electronic communication market (Internet, fixed lines and mobile phones) to increase investments in networks, to set up a small regulatory body and to protect consumer's interests. See the Parliament press release. It is a proposal to amend other directives, as explained on the page of the Commission regarding the Telecom Package
However, a group of Lobbyists from the international media industry have silently managed to introduce some unprecedented harmful changes, which, if approved, would force software and telecomunication companies to integrate systems to detect copyright infringements, with unpredictable and harmful consequences in the IT market and software developers respectively. The FFII is concerned (see our press release) with the consequences of such amendments regarding the technological neutrality of the Internet. Many other sources are pointing out the dangers of the Telecom Package from different perspectives. See for instance:
Press release of MEP Kathy Sinnott, which should be published on the 7th of July.
Dates and Committees
Two committees of the European Parliament are dealing with it before the plenary vote
ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy)
- Monday 7 July 2008, 19.00 20.30
- Room: SDM-S1
IMCO (Internal Market and ConsumerProtection)
- Monday 7 July 2008, 19.00 20.30
- Room: LOW N 1.3
The plenary vote will presumably take place on the first week of September for the amendments approved on Monday.
What to do?
The votes of the ITRE and IMCO committees are over. See the media coverage section for reports of the outcome, but be aware that they and many MEPs haven't understood the implications of some amendments that were voted. We are preparing actions for the plenary vote. We will notify our supporters per email. If you are not a supporter of the FFII yet, please fill your data here and set your participation level as a supporter.
It follows an analysis example of two of the amendments that must be rejected. They put in danger the principle of "technological neutrality", which is defined by "the rules should neither require nor assume a particular technology": . We have also a numeric evaluation of more ITRE amendments.
Article 22(3). Compromise Amendment 5
This compromise amendment falsely marketed as "Net neutrality" allows the European Commission to issue technical restrictions on software and protocols that runs on Internet services:
Article 22(3) "Net neutrality" A national regulatory authority may issue guidelines setting minimum quality of service requirements, and, if appropriate, take other measures, in order to prevent degradation of service and slowing of traffic over networks, and to ensure that the ability of users to access or distribute lawful content or to run lawful applications and services of their choice is not unreasonably restricted. Those guidelines or measures shall take due account of any standards issued under Article 17 of Directive 2002/12/EC (Framework Directive). The Commission may, having examined such guidelines or measures and consulted [xxx], adopt technical implementing measures in that regard if it considers that the guidelines or measures may create a barrier to the internal market. These measures, designed to amend non-essential elements of this Directive by supplementing it, shall be adopted in accordance with the regulatory procedure with scrutiny referred to in Article 37(2).
The European Commission may adopt certain technical implementing measures to force software running on the Internet to comply with. This is an invasion of the regulator in the software market, and it should be fought back vigorously.
Recital 12c. Compromise Amendment 4
Similar to the Compromise Amendment 5, this amendment promotes the intervention of the regulator in the software market:
(14c) Since inconsistent remedies will significantly impair the achievement of the internal market, the Commission should assess any guidelines or other measures set by national regulatory authorities for possible regulatory intervention across the Community and, if necessary, adopt technical implementing measures in order to achieve consistent application throughout the Community.
LIBE 76 Kamal
The amendment tabled by Kamal and adopted in LIBE n76 is on purpose written in way that makes the reader believes that there is "no mandatory filtering".
(5a) In Article 14, paragraph 1 shall be replaced by the following:
1. In implementing the provisions of this Directive, Member States shall ensure, subject to paragraphs 2 and 3, that no mandatory requirements for specific technical features, including, without limitation, for the purpose of detecting, intercepting or preventing infringement of intellectual property rights by users, are imposed on terminal or other electronic communication equipment which could impede the placing of equipment on the market and the free circulation of such equipment in and between Member States.
The amendment refers to paragraphs 2 and 3, which dangerously mentions the possibility to have "specific technical features" required:
2. Where provisions of this Directive can be implemented only by requiring specific technical features in electronic communications networks, Member States shall inform the Commission in accordance with the procedure provided for by Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations and of rules on information society services (9).
- 3. Where required, measures may be adopted to ensure that terminal equipment is constructed in a way that is compatible with the right of users to protect and control the use of their personal data, in accordance with Directive 1999/5/EC and Council Decision 87/95/EEC of 22 December 1986 on standardisation in the field of information technology and communications(10)
The Kamal amendment (which tries to sell the idea that there is "no mandatory filtering") contradicts with paragraph 2, which recognises that filtering might be possible ("Where provisions of this Directive can be implemented only by requiring specific technical features in electronic communications networks"). The paragraph 2 originates from the Commission proposal, and is an example of bad law drafting, in which the provision applies to the whole text, and it is up to the reader to find out to which part of the text it applies.
About the terms ''lawfull/unlawfull software''
Software are information stored in a computer, mathematical expressions of ideas, and therefore cannot be categorized in terms of lawfull and unlawfull, exactly as it is the case with written text. People and companies use software for different porpuses, and putting some software on a black list damage innovation and security. Two prominent examples follow
Peer-to-peer download software is frequently used for legal applications such as downloading free software distributions faster
exploits (software to manipulate computers) are the best tool for system administrator and security companies to find out if his systems are running vulnerable software. Some prominent tools are for instance metasploit and nessus.
The audio from the press conference following the Telecoms Package vote of the Committees is available at http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/download/audio_download_en.cfm?id=125266&src=6 (you need to register though)
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Similarities with the americans SSSCA and CBDTPA
The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) was a bill proposed in the US whose aim was to forbid computers that are sold without a trusted chip inside:
"The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA), scheduled to be introduced by Hollings, backs up this requirement with teeth: It would be a civil offense to create or sell any kind of computer equipment that "does not include and utilize certified security technologies" approved by the federal government." Source: Wired: New Copyright Bill Heading to DC
The SSSCA was afterwards renamed in Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) which, according to Wikipedia article, "would have prohibited any kind of technology that could be used to read digital content without digital rights management (DRM)". Richard Stallman criticized this act due to the restrictions that it would place in the immediate and long-term future on free software, dubbing the bill the "Consume But Don't Try Programming Act."