[french version] About this project This purpose of the open letter below is twofold. First it is a process of coordination in itself by the means of performing a traditional request for comments on the text of the letter. Second, the letter will provide a platform for coordinated action of the NGOs who share the expressed concerns. Signatures and comments will be incorporated by the editors representing ISOC, EDRi and EBLIDA below. The peer review process will go on until early February and the final text will then be printed and distributed. Please feel welcome to help improve the text. Contact Niels (elgaard <AT> agol.dk) if your organization want to be part of the coalition.
Open letter to the European Parliament
Dear Members of the European Parliament, We would like to draw your attention to some serious concerns we have in respect to the Telecoms Package, which is about to enter the Second Reading stage in the European Parliament.
Our comments relate to those amendments to the Telecoms Package which affect the Internet and Internet users. We welcome the Parliament’s support for users’ rights in First Reading, and we urge you to build on that support to improve the texts in the Second Reading. We also welcome the various statements by the EU to incorporate citizen's interests within the policy-making process for the Internet.
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 now 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.
We note the Council Conclusions of 27 November 2007, 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." Indeed, the Internet has grown very fast precisely because there was no discrimination between traffic, based on content, services or applications. European companies and operators, as well as users, have benefited greatly from this development.
Open and non-discriminatory access is dependent on the network remaining neutral. This means that Internet users control their access to content. Users can access any website or internet service they want, at any time, at the fastest speed they are willing to pay for. Users do not want network operators to choose for them which websites and which services and applications they can use. They want to be able to experiment with new applications and protocols without having to ask for prior permission from the network operator. And they do not want content to be blocked or restricted by the network operator.
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 - Universal Services Directive, Article 22(3),
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"- Universal Services Directive, Articles 33(2a), 20(2b), 21(4a); and Framework Directive, Article 8(4g),
3. the threat to user's privacy via the retention and processing of personal data for "security purposes" - E-privacy directive, Article 6(6a).
We request that the amendments related to the three risks are removed from the Package, in order that they may be given due consideration without delaying the wider objectives.
At the same time,
1. safeguards for users against discriminatory practices, disproportionate sanctions or unfair restriction of service have been removed - Framework directive Article 8 (4ga) and Universal Services Directive Article 32a,
2. Regulatory controls on the activities of the service providers, which would protect against discriminatory, restrictive or unfair practices, have been weakened - Universal Services Directive, Article 22(3).
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 Telecom Package amendments on filtering, co-operation and traffic processing, in addition to compromising user's rights, will also have the effect of further distorting the internal market for telecommunications services. If network operators in each Member State filter on different criteria, the internal market objective becomes 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 Telecom Package 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.
For these reasons,
we request the Parliament rejects these amendments:
and we request support for
The undersigned groups and individuals represent thousands of European citizens and Internet users, in XXX EU member states.
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 assist the European Parliament in order to address the very important public policy areas related to the Internet, telecommunications, privacy and copyright, and find equitable solutions for business and for citizens.
Niels Elgaard Larsen (EDRi and IT-Pol.dk)
Andrew Cranefield (EBLIDA)
Christopher Wilkinson (chair, ISOC-ECC)
Jérémie Zimmermann (La Quadrature du Net)
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)