[french version] [Spanish version] [Italian 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
Open and non-discriminatory access is dependent on Internet users controlling their access to content. This means 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(3), 20(1.b.1st), 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(7).
We request that the amendments related to the three aforementioned 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, cooperation and traffic processing will have in fact the effect of further distorting the internal market and most of all, compromise user's rights (which should be taken into account in defining and implementing any Community policies and activities).
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 the measures to achieve that goal might not be detrimental to citizen's rights and democratic participation. We also believe that European welfare will only happen if the Internet can remain free and open and that the type of measures entailed in the Telecommunications package highlighted above will not contribute to Europe's economic objectives.
For these reasons, We request the Parliament rejects :
and we request support for :
The undersigned groups and individuals represent thousands of European citizens and Internet users, in 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.