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  1.  (5640.1)
    On the fifth of May, The EU parliament will be voting on the "Telecommunications Package", which will, in no uncertain terms, spell the death of internet usage as we know it in Europe.

    Some may think that's a good thing, but in all seriousness, It really isn't.

    What the Telecommunications package will do is give providers the ability to segregate content, in a fashion not dissimilar to things like cable or satellite television. ISPs will become able to filter content right down, to what THEY want you, the little people of the EU to have access to. Rather than the diversity inherent in the web today, it will become fixed. Rigid. and even more flawed than some people see it as being today. Some ISPs may stop streaming, others P2P traffic, VOIP. If they want to, they could even block content from countries of choice. Internet freedom will literally become a thing of the past. Literally.

    If this bill is passed, not only will it destroy the diversity, and dare I say "culture" of the internet for European citizens, but it will destroy businesses and inhibit the education of not only ourselves, but our children.

    Ok, the internet isn't all good. There is a lot of dross, filth and human idiocy. We use it because its the most important repository of human knowledge in existence, and because it has porn. A great success of the internet is the fluidity of it, the fact we can all access obscure material, or teach ourselves new things, or keep in touch with like minded people, or open images and say " I did not need to see that", that its constantly changing and growing because we as people have an input into it.
    This bill could take it away from us. We could find ourselves squeezed down to lists of corporate entertainment websites and nothing else, because there are people who would have a vested interest in this happening, and this bill would give them the ability to do it.
    Imagine only being able to access One Spanish language website, one source for coding, one database of information on cooking human jerky. It won't be that extreme, I'd hope. But it'll be bad enough. You will no longer be able to choose for yourself. You might make the most fantastic websites ever, and people may not get to see them, because someone else says so. Imagine not being able to come here, because your provider doesn't like Warren Ellis.
    Some providers may opt to do nothing, but the ability to severely alter the users access to the 'net will still be there if they have a change of heart.

    If you're European, you owe it to yourself to try and influence the outcome of this vote. Even if you are not, hope for your sakes that this doesn't go through, because where one environment adopts these kinds of measures, its almost certain that others will.

    If anyone would like any information on this act, might I suggest:
    Blackout Europe.

    I really hope that I don't cause Mr.Ellis or Ariana any offence with this topic. I'm only posting because I think this is important to everyone here and I'm sorry If I've overstepped a boundary.
  2.  (5640.2)
    I'd love to see some discussion on this. Similar efforts have been struck down in the US, purportedly by the open source-crowd and their allies; given linux' popularity in Europe compared to the US I'd think that there would be even wider furor over a proposal like this there than in the US (consider the recent vote against the proposed French 3-strikes rule). Apparently I haven't been watching my Eurofeeds closely enough the past week or so, as I haven't noticed much debate about this. EU denizens, care to weigh in?
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2009
    I hope people won't be lazy and realise what's at stake here. Rather handily that site tells you about how to contact your Member of the European Parliament to voice your opinion. Personally I'm fed up of the Government telling us what we can and can't do.
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2009 edited
    Emonk, and for a small part I, are trying to keep an eye on this via the site Depressing News :
    The more we stay informed, the more we will be able to keep the Internet as a neutral place, or at least, try.
    I don't want to wake up one day and realize I did nothing about this.
    • CommentAuthorkrugar
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2009
    since is suffering from a 509 error, may i suggest the somewhat more reputable La Quadrature du Net page (in english), complete with all the mail adresses and phone/fax numbers you need to contact your MEPs ? the ITRE voting is in about 20 hours. times a-wasting...
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2009
    As Digitalyn mentioned, DNN tries to aggregate, comment and report these issues in English, as most national news are hard to follow if you don't speak the language. Readers (and contributors) welcome.

    And if you live in Europe and have ten minutes tomorrow to spare for a free internet, call your EU representative seated on the ITRE committee and tell them that they should not get rid of the "Bono" amendment that guarantees judicial oversight for graduated response in their vote tomorrow evening. Details here.
  3.  (5640.7)
    For those in the UK - the Open Rights Group* are also fighting against this.

    *Whom I pay £10 a month to, and are run by people who I call friends.
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2009
    (More feeds in my reader, that's excellent)
  4.  (5640.9)
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009
    have retransmitted this...
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009
    I've been digging into this for a bit, but there's still a few questions I haven't been able to get answered, and I was wondering if anyone here might help me out. Firstly, how did this whole thing get started, and does it smack anyone else as being rather like China's information control policies? If not, what are the differences?
  5.  (5640.12)
    The differences are that the controls will not be in the EU Parliments, or any other governments hands. ISPs will have the power to control what any particular user subscribing to them can access, be it by content, address or datatype. Its a dangerously open proposition, as essentially any provider could indulge in political or informative biase, just for starters.
    How this started, exactly, I'm not sure, the proposal was brought to the EU by the UK, that's one thing I do know, and I will try and dig up the information on that for you.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009
    Thanks - I'm honestly not sure which would worry me more, information control in the hands of governments of ISP-owning companies.
  6.  (5640.14)
    I wonder when we'll hear how the vote went?
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009
    This worries me. I've written to my MEP's.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009
    Interesting. Good to see that people are keeping tabs on this.

    I don't know what to make of it. I would actually have assumed that this is already the case to a certain extent. Isn't it generally left up to ISP's to decide wether to ban access to "questionable" sites like terrorist web sites or web sites that display child pornography? Or is that entirely up to law enforcement?
      CommentAuthorCat Vincent
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009 edited
    According to La Quadrature du Net (and found on bloody Reddit first!)
    Once again, the European Parliament has demonstrated it can resist pressure and stand for the rights and freedoms of citizens. Amendment 138 (now renumbered amendment 46) was adopted today in ITRE committe, in Strasbourg.

    Amendement 138/46-135 states that restrictions to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Internet users can only be put in place after a decision by judicial authorities (save when public security is threatened in which case the ruling may be subsequent). It was adopted last September by an overwhelming majority of the European Parliament, and approved by the European Commission despite explicit requests from the French Presidency to reject it. The European Council has rejected it further to pressure of the French government and some disinformation by in-house Council lawyers on its claimed contradiction with existing National law.

    Despite strong pressure to reach a compromise on the framework directive of the Telecoms Package, the ITRE committee of the European Parliament has today adopted again amendment 138/46, by a strong majority of 40 against 4. One will have to monitor closely further proceedings to be sure that this vote is confirmed in plenary, but it is a strong and clear signal.

    According to Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net: "The European citizens will remember this courageous stand. Members of the European parliament honoured their mandates by standing courageously for citizens' rights and freedoms. This is one more blow to Nicolas Sarkozy's 'three strikes' or 'HADOPI' law in France, and a strong sign that nobody in Europe will want to pass such a stupid legislation going against progress, citizens' rights and common sense.".

    Dunno about you lot, but 1) very relieved and 2) immediately adding La Quadrature du Net to my feed.
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009 edited
    @Artemis of Oz:

    I can't speak for how exactly it got started in the EU, but here's the argument for net segregation as presented in the U.S.:

    Let's say you are a major ISP, such as Comcast. You (claim to) notice an awful lot of your bandwidth is being taken up by streaming video, coming from YouTube for example. The ISP argues that YouTube is a freeloader - YouTube only pays once for the cost of their bandwidth on the transmission side, but nothing on the receiving end. The ISP argues that this wastes their resources and essentially makes them work for YouTube for free. But do they want to charge YouTube again for the bandwidth? No, that would be ridiculous, they argue - but we might like to knock it down a bit so that it doesn't overwhelm the (sponsored, owned, subscriber-based) content that the ISP is trying to push - in the case of Comcast, that would be for example their Fancast video streaming site.

    So, the ISP claims with a straight face that it is perfectly fair to knock down the bandwidth available to 'freeloaders' in order to prioritize their own walled-garden subscriber content. There's also an argument about BitTorrent and P2P traffic in there as well, but that was a bit of a sideshow.

    I'm gathering the situation in the EU is similar, but please elaborate if not.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009
    That actually makes a lot of sense - I was pretty sure there was more to it than Orwellian mustache-twirling. It's even understandable, to a point. Nevertheless, glad it looks like it was knocked down a peg in Europe.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2009
    It's the confusion between ISP's who only provide the access versus those that also want to deliver content too. Most people (quite rightly in my opinion) argue that an ISP is a provider of a service, like the water company and the gas board, and they should have no say in how the service gets used by their consumers (as long as it's not being used illegally).