07 May 2009

EU - Net-neutrality clause likely to delay telecoms reform

The last-minute addition of a net-neutrality clause to a package of telecommunications reforms will probably delay the package's approval by telecoms ministers, the European Parliament has said. The Parliament voted through the Telecoms Package, which includes a mixture of reforms covering topics ranging from number-porting and data-breach notification to radio-spectrum use and the establishment of a Europe-wide telecoms super-regulator. The sticking point is a clause inserted shortly before the vote that says "no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities ... save when public security is threatened". The Telecoms Package also stated that internet access was a fundamental right. The clause in question, numbered 138/46, is widely seen as a way of stopping so-called "three-strikes" legislation, such as the Hadopi bill that the French parliament rejected last month but will reconsider on 12 May. Such legislation can force ISPs to cut off users who are suspected of illegal file-sharing. see European Parliament Approves EU Telecoms Reform but Adds 1 Amendment: Commission Reaction (RAPID).