Open letter to the European Parliament
The undersigned groups and individuals represent zz thousands of European citizens and Internet users, in xx EU member states.
We welcome the various statements by the EU to incorporate citizen's interests within the policy-making process for the Internet. We also note the Council Conclusions of 27 November 2008, on "Future Networks and the Internet" which state "that open and non discriminatory access to the Internet should be promoted in order to ensure effective competition and an innovation-friendly environment."
The Internet plays a major economic and social role, and contributes to European welfare. It is a space for cultural exchange, technological innovation, and economic activity. It empowers all citizens alike, including innovators, entrepreneurs and consumers. It enables social interaction and democratic participation. It has become an important foundation for culture, scientific research, innovation, and education.
Europe has an opportunity to take a lead in the development of the next generation networks, and the products, services, and applications that will run on them.
Open and non-discriminatory access is dependent on the internet and future networks remaining neutral.
We are concerned that certain amendments which remain in the Telecoms Package will put those values and benefits, as well as fundamental rights such as privacy and freedom of speech, in jeopardy. We have consistently stated, and we still believe, that it carries a number of risks, namely that:
1. it will permit the filtering of content, applications and services;
2. the denial of access to on-line copyright material through attempts at enforcement, even when access is lawful, via "cooperation" between network providers and "the sectors interested in the promotion of lawful content";
3. the threat to user's privacy via the retention and processing of personal data for "security purposes".
We request that the amendments related to the three risks we have highlighted are removed from the Package, in order that they may be given due consideration without delaying the wider objectives.
At the same time, safeguards for users against discriminatory practices, disproportionate sanctions or unfair restriction of service have been removed (4). Regulatory controls on the activities of the service providers, which would protect against discriminatory, restrictive or unfair practices, have been weakened (5). We believe that those safeguards and regulatory controls should be reinstated, in order to ensure the fair treatment of users across Europe.
We recognise the critical nature of the overriding objective of the Telecoms Package, namely to complete the internal market for
telecommunications in Europe. We would warn however, that the amendments we have highlighted, in addition to compromising user's rights, will also have the effect of further distorting the internal market for telecommunications services, making that objective unachievable.
We very much share the desire of the EU to promote the growth and competitiveness of the European economy, as we recognise that such growth will only be beneficial for all citizens. However, we believe that economic growth will only happen if the Internet can remain free and open. The type of measures entailed in the amendments highlighted above will be detrimental to Europe's economic objectives as well as to citizen's rights and democratic participation.
Within our coalition we have experts in areas relevant to the Internet and citizens' rights including filtering, network technologies, digital rights management, privacy and data protection, policy, law, media and software. We would like to work with the European Parliament in order to address these very important public policy areas and find equitable solutions for business and for citizens.
Niels Elgaard Larsen (EDRi and IT-Pol.dk)
Andrew Cranefield (EBLIDA)
Christopher Wilkinson (ISOC)
Jérémie Zimmermann (La Quadrature)
Paolo Brini (ScambioEtico)
Ralf Bendrath (AK Vorratsdatenspeicherung)
Wouter Tebbens (Free Knowledge Institute)
Jonas Öberg, Föreningen fri kultur & programvara
Bogomil Shopov, e-frontier Bulgaria
Laura Ranca, Center for Media and Communication Studies (CMCS)
Celia Blanco and Michel Bauwens (P2P Foundation)
1. Universal Services Directive, Article 22(3)
2. Universal Services Directive, Article 33(2a) ; Article 20(2b); Article 21 (4a)
3. E-privacy directive, Article 6(6a)
4. Framework directive, Amendment 138; Universal services directive, Amendment 166.
5. Universal Services Directive, Article 22(3)