30 March 2009

Save the European Internet – Write to Your MEPs (Again)

Last week I was urging you to write to a particular set of MEPs about proposed changes to the Telecoms Package, which is wending its slow way through the European Union's legislative system. Now it's time to write to *all* you MEPs, since a crucially important vote in a couple of committees is to take place tomorrow. You can read more about what's been happening and why that's a problem on the La Quadrature du Net site, which also offers a detailed analysis of the Telecom Package and the proposed amendments.

Here's what I've just sent to all my MEPs using WriteToThem:

I am writing to ask you as my representative to contact your colleagues on the IMCO and ITRE committees about crucial votes on the Telecoms Package, taking place in 31 March. At stake is nothing less than the future of the Internet in Europe. If amendments being supported by AT&T and others go through, the main driver of the Internet – and with it, online innovation – will be nullified.

This would be deeply ironic, since it was in Europe that the most important online innovation of all – the Web – was invented. In fact, no less a person than Sir Tim Berners-Lee, its inventor, has warned (at http://dig.csail.mit.edu/breadcrumbs/node/144) that the loss of net neutrality – which is what some of the proposed amendments would lead to – would have made it impossible for him to have carried out his revolutionary work. If we wish Europe to remain in the forefront of digital innovation, it is vital that the net neutrality of the Internet be preserved.

This is a complex issue – I personally find it very difficult to navigate through the many conflicting options before the committees. Fortunately, others have already done the hard work, and boiled down the recommendations to the following.

For your colleagues on the IMCO committee, please urge then to:

Vote against the amendments authorizing “net discrimination” and guarantee it is not put in place, by :

rejecting amendements 136=137=138 pushed by AT&T (and the related recitals 116, 117=118)

voting for amendment 135 bringing protection against “net discrimination”

as a default, if the first ones were all rejected, vote for ams 139+141

Vote for positive protection of EU citizens' fundamental rights in amendments 72=146

Vote for protecting EU citizens' privacy by rejecting amendment 85 and voting for am. 150.

Similarly, for those on the IMRE committee, please ask them to:

Protect EU citizens fundamental rights and freedoms by voting for amendment 46=135 (first reading amendment 138).

Reject the notion of “lawful content” in amendment 45 for it is a major breach to the technical neutrality of the network, would turn operators into private judges, and open the door to “graduated response” (or “three strikes”) schemes of corporate police.

If you or your colleagues are interested in seeing the detailed analysis of all the amendments, it can be found here:


This is a critical series of votes for the Internet in Europe. At a time of great economic turmoil, the last thing we can afford is to throttle Europe's entrepreneurial spirit; for this reason, I hope that you will be able to convince your colleagues on the committees to vote as suggested above.

Sadly, this is really important and really urgent. Please add your voice if you can, or the Internet as we know may cease to exist in Europe soon, to be replaced with something closer to a cable TV service. You have been warned.

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