Dear Members of the IMCO and ITRE committees,
Following our first open letter (attached), as citizens, consumers, developers creators and innovators we would like to reiterate our concerns about the risks implicit in the Telecoms Package and the amendments proposed to it.
We believe that the regulation of the telecommunication sector is about access and interconnection to/of the networks, It is about guaranteeing innovation, competition on services provided and the flow of data and information, and the users' right to send and receive them. It is not about regulating content and who and how has to promote it or restrict it.
We are concerned that “new consumers options”, diversification of the offers or traffic management policies, are really about dressing up the limitations and promotion or priorization of content, services and applications.
Such a change in the fundamental structure of the Internet will lead to “packaging” the Internet, restricting our rights and freedoms, and shrinking our ability to shop, learn, create, exchange, participate, collaborate, innovate, stimulate new business and ideas.
Limitations and control over innovation.
Currently on the Internet, control over innovation and competition is down to users who create, offer and use new applications content and services that anyone may access over the networks. We can share and exchange opinions and information, design and use learning or e-commerce platforms, offer and receive services..., and that openness guarantees cultural diversity.
By allowing access providers to set limitations on what can be visited/used, (even when made with transparency) we will only be able to access to parts of the web not the websites of our choice and we will be giving them control to drive and limit innovation, competition and cultural diversity, as they will be deciding what kind of applications, services and content should be developed to be found and used on the web.
Traffic management policies
We understand that sometimes, to smooth traffic, in cases of congestion, or to respond to threaten to network or end-user security, it is necessary to put in place remedies. We appreciate the effort made by the European Parliament to ensure transparency by network operators when using management policies to get those objectives.
Control over competition and rights and freedoms
However we are concerned that some provisions in the Telecoms Package could allow those networks operators to use those management policies to prioritize certain content services and applications over others, with the result that they would not only limit competition but they would be restricting our freedom of speech, a right recognized to all citizens by the European Charter of fundamental rights in its Art. 11.
To avoid those risks we believe that a regulatory authority should have sufficient powers to supervise and control those policies and practices.
Setting limitations to rights and freedoms should only be done on the basis of protecting a general public interest and not on specific and privates ones. That does not mean that anyone may do what she wants, lawful or unlawful or that private and specific rights do not deserve protection, but that does mean that the restriction on the exercise of a right must be proportionate and may only be decided by a judge after considering whether the alleged infringing of a right has occurred.
We consider that management policies should not imply any limitation to access and distribute specific kinds of content, services and applications as those practices go against competition, innovation and cultural diversity and we also consider that restrictions on access corresponds only to judges as they are the guarantors of citizen's rights and freedoms.
For all those reasons:
We ask the Parliament to support:
§ IMCO Amendments 109, 115, 139 and 141 which seek to prevent discriminatory practices on the networks
§ IMCO amendments 114 and 135, about disclosure and giving the regulatory authority powers
to deal with the new type of situations.
§ IMCO amendment 72=146, which enshrines protection of fundamental freedoms.
§ IMCO Amendment 111 which establishes a guarantee of connectivity for users
§ ITRE Amendment 134 (previously Amendment 138) which safeguards users against systems of private sanctions.
We ask the Parliament to reject:
§ IMCO Amendments 136=137=138 which seek to impose limits
§ IMCO Amendments 147 which reintroduces the notion of lawful content and risks plces a liability on ISPs for content
§ ITRE Amendment 45 which introduces regulation of content
We recommend to:
§ remove references to limitations and conditions on access to networks, content services or applications
We reinstate our rejection
§ of proposed art. 33.3 Universal Service Directive.
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.