04 July 2008

Urgent: Please write to your MEP – Now!

On Open Enterprise blog.

If you're in the EU, please do this.


Anonymous said...

This is apparently the new way that "democracy" works. Not for the first time legislative amendments have been presented at the eleventh hour, presumably in the hope that "no one will notice".

Is this the most appropriate way for governments to implement the will of the people? It seems more likely that it is a response to the "threat" to governments that the Internet represents, that of easy and open mass communication.

One day the tipping point will be reached. One day the reality of the Orwellian world we are rapidly emulating will become apparent to a critical mass of the great unwashed public. Am I the only one that can see public disorder and anarchy arising from that?

And no, I'm not a radical. I'm a middle-aged, balding, slightly overweight, middle-class white male. I just become more and more concerned at the ultimate outcome when a government's actions and its electorate's wishes are on divergent paths.

Glyn Moody said...


The only consolation is that at least we now have more tools for (a) keeping tabs on the cads and (b) for offering at least a token resistance, if only with words.

I actually contacted one of MEPs about this matter, and was struck by the effect people's emails had had on him.

I think that hitherto MEPs have led a rather cocooned existence, so input from hoi polloi (rather than lobbyists) comes as a shock. This means we must keep up the pressure.

Anonymous said...

For information, I just got this reply from one of my MEPs:

Dear Mr Driscoll,

Many thanks for your email regarding selected amendments tabled by Malcolm Harbour MEP and Syed Kamall MEP, in advance of the telecoms votes in Strasbourg on Monday

Mr Harbour and Mr Kamall would like to stress that it is absolutely not the case that that their amendments will damage the openness of the Internet and reduce the rights of Internet users and have provided responses below to the amendments identified for criticism in the Quadrature document to which you referred.

Mr Harbour and Mr Kamall would like to highlight that their amendments
reinforce the openness of the Internet and they have ensured that consumers' rights are respected, with copyright issues being restricted to public service information only (see justification below).

If you would like any further information, please feel free to contact us.

Justification of amendments tabled by Mr Harbour and Mr Kamall

As is clear from the text, amendment H1 in fact gives national regulatory authorities and the Commission the power to take appropriate action to prevent degradation and slowing of traffic and against unreasonable restrictions of users' possibilities to access or distribute lawful content or to run lawful applications and services of their choice. Furthermore, recital 14 starts with the words: "It should be the end-users' decision what lawful content they want to be able to
send and receive, and which services, applications , hardware and software they want to use for such purposes..." It also notes that "an unrestricted basic internet service" could be required as a response to a perceived problem.

It is evident that this protection should not extend to any unlawful content or applications. In fact, the question of lawfulness is outside the scope of this legislation and depends on the national laws of each country. It is to be decided by the relevant judicial authorities of each country, not by the ISPs.
Amendment K1 refers to the free movement of goods and makes it clear that a country can not start requiring manufacturers to incorporate features that would allow detecting or preventing for example copyright infringement, as that would hinder the free movement of the computers and other terminal equipment concerned. Any such requirements would have to be agreed by all member states of the EU. We are not aware of any such proposals.

Amendment H2 asks national regulatory authorities to promote - not force - cooperation, as appropriate, regarding protection and promotion of lawful content. It is entirely independent of "flexible response" and does not prescribe the outcome of any such cooperation.

As opposed to the text proposed by the Commission, amendment H3 shifts the burden of explaining the law from the ISPs to the appropriate national authorities. It also broadens the concept so that any type of unlawful activities are covered, not only copyright infringement. Such other activities could be for example child pornography. This public interest information would be prepared by the relevant national authority and then simply distributed by the ISP to all their customers. It involves no monitoring of individual customer usage of the internet.
None of the amendments have been drafted by any outside lobbying organisation.

Office of Timothy Kirkhope MEP
Working for Yorkshire & the Humber
in the European Parliament
ASP 14E 264
Rue Wiertz
B-1047 Brussels

Glyn Moody said...

Thanks - I got one of those too. I also heard that they were "redrafting" the amendments....

It's very hard to tell what's going on here: whether these were honest mistakes, or whether we're being taken for mugs....

We'll find out soon.