By: MarkJ - 7 May, 2009 (6:57 AM)
The European Parliament has, in its FINAL vote (there have been five so far) on the matter, chosen to retain amendment 46 (138) of the new Telecoms Package by a majority of 407 to 57. Amendment 46 states that restrictions to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Internet users can only be put in place after a decision by judicial authorities, which protects ISPs from having to disconnect customers suspected of involvement with illegal broadband file-sharing (P2P) downloads.

La Quadrature du Net confirms that the European Parliament has nevertheless adopted a soft compromise on issues of network equity: no strong protection against "net discrimination" was adopted.

"A formidable campaign from the citizens put the issues of freedoms on the Internet at the center of the debates of the Telecoms Package. This is a victory by itself. It started with the declaration of commissioner Viviane Reding considering access to Internet as a fundamental right. The massive re-adoption of amendment 138/46 rather than the softer compromise negotiated by rapporteur Trautmann with the Council is an even stronger statement. These two elements alone confirm that the French 'three strikes' scheme, HADOPI, is dead already." explains Jrmie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.

However it's not all good news as the changes do not prevent similar schemes from being introduced by individual member states. Likewise nothing will forbid ISPs from turning the Internet away from a neutral zone where people have equal access to all content applications and services. [geek]We doubt the Romulans would approve.[/geek]

"The strong statement for the access to the Internet as a fundamental right demonstrates that the Parliament can be courageous and reject the pressure to compromise when essential values are at stake. Unfortunately, on issues that appear more technical such as the absence of discrimination of services and contents on the Internet, the Parliament did not take the full measure of what it is at stake yet. Citizens must remain mobilized on these crucial questions," concludes Grald Sdrati-Dinet, analyst for La Quadrature.

Mercifully we're unlikely to see Three-Strikes style legislation in the UK, although some rights holders are still privately pushing for it. To date the industry as a whole has failed to agree a concrete way forward on the matter, although it's expected that Lord Carter's final Digital Britain report (due in another month or so) may present one. See our 'To Ban or Not to Ban (Illegal File Sharers)' – article for more background to all this.
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