Monday, July 7, 2008

The MEPs reply

So far, the following MEPs have said to me they'll vote against the Telecoms package.
  • Glyn Ford (LAB)
  • Graham Booth (UKIP)
  • Tom Wise (UKIP)
  • Roger Knapman (UKIP)
  • Jeffrey Titford (UKIP)
The following will be voting in favour
  • Robert Sturdy (CON)
  • Neil Parish (CON)
I'm reproducing in full the whole of the email Neil Parish sent me, since he was involved in creating the amendments. Make your own minds up. (The emboldenings are mine.)

Dear Matt Kelland

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Telecom Package.

My colleagues Malcolm Harbour MEP and Syed Kamall MEP have been involved with tabling some of the amendments involved in the Telecoms Package. Rather than reduce the rights of internet users and inhibit freedoms, the amendments are in fact intended to reinforce the openness of the Internet. Both have been responsible for making sure that consumers' rights are respected, with copyright issues being restricted to public service information only.

The amendments have been created to strike a balance between the need for monitoring of unlawful activity, thus protecting ordinary lawful users of the Internet, whilst ensuring "sweeping powers" are not handed down to authorities. It is evident that this protection should not extend to any unlawful content or applications. In fact, the question of lawfulness is outside the scope of this legislation and depends on the national laws of each country. It is to be decided by the relevant judicial authorities of each country, not by the ISPs. The intention is however not to turn ISPs into "copyright police". Whilst I appreciate that P2P and other filesharing devices are invaluable for businesses such as your own, the aim of this package is to clamp down on its illegal usage. I have no doubt that the Internet will move fast to fill the void left by their absence for legitimate, legal usage; already there is talk of a "legal P2P" alternative being created.

Amendment K1 refers to the free movement of goods and makes it clear that a country can not start requiring manufacturers to incorporate features that would allow detecting or preventing for example copyright infringement, as that would hinder the free movement of the computers and other terminal equipment concerned. Any such requirements would have to be agreed by all member states of the EU. We are not aware of any such proposals. Specifically, it states "in implementing the provisions of this Directive, Member States shall ensure, subject to paragraphs 2 and 3, that no mandatory requirements for specific technical features, including, without limitation, for the purpose of detecting,intercepting or preventing infringement of intellectual property rights by users, are imposed on terminal or other electronic communication equipment which could impede the placing of equipment on the market and the free circulation of such equipment in and between Member States".

Amendment H2 asks national regulatory authorities to promote - not force - cooperation, as appropriate, regarding protection and promotion of lawful content. It is entirely independent of "flexible response" and does not prescribe the outcome of any such cooperation. As opposed to the text proposed by the Commission, amendment H3 shifts the burden of explaining the law from the ISPs to the appropriate national authorities. It also broadens the concept so that any type of unlawful activities are covered, not only copyright infringement. Such other activities could be for example child pornography. This public interest information would be prepared by the relevant national authority and then simply distributed by the ISP to all their customers. It involves no monitoring of individual customer usage of the internet.

The package gives national regulatory authorities and the Commission the power to take appropriate action to prevent degradation and slowing of traffic and against unreasonable restrictions of users' possibilities to access or distribute lawful content or to run lawful applications and services of their choice. None of the amendments have been drafted by any outside lobbying organisation.

I hope this information helps. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any further queries.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Parish MEP

I've read the amendments as drafted, and, let's say, erm, his interpretation of them isn't the same as mine, whatever his original intent might have been.  I'll just make two comments.

First of all, I never told him what my business is, and used a private email address, so what does he mean by "businesses such as yours"? Was that a generic message, or do I hear the sound of black helicopters?

And second, look at that neat little reference to child porn. Of course. That's what it's all about. So only paedophiles and child pornographers could possibly want to oppose this bill. Standard FUD tactics.

Email your suggestions about how to make a "three strikes" law work without monitoring individual usage to


Hugh "Nomad" Hancock said...

Malcolm Harbour has said, explicitly, on the BBC, that the bill will not support "three strikes" legislation, and that he would be happy to include additional ammendments to make that clear.

Which is damn good news.

I'll post up more on this tomorrow.

Matt "The Mongoose" Kelland said...

Malcolm Harbour's statement is at