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End of the privacy debate in the European Parliament: overview

do, 12/21/2017 - 16:34

Paris, 6 November 2017 — On 26 October, the European Parliament as a whole decided to end its debate about the future ePrivacy Regulation. Its position already adopted on 19 October by the leading Civil Liberties committee was thus confirmed. Now, governments of the Member States and representatives of the European Parliament will negotiate in order to find a compromise in form of a final text. Let's review the first step of legislation which has come to an end.

An alarming start

The protection of our electronic communications is currently guaranteed by the ePrivacy directive , adopted in 2002. It requires our consent to analyse of our communications but, however, exclusively applies to telephone and Internet operators.

Last year, the European Commission announced its wish to reform this directive. The idea was to extend the scope of the ePrivacy directive to any type of electronic communications provider : not only telecommunications operators, but also email providers (Gmail, for example) and instant messaging services (such as WhatsApp). This exciting ambition naturally triggered opposition from the newly affected businesses (see the recommendations we've published).

Nevertheless, the ePrivacy draft regulation proposed by the Commission last January also intended to erase numerous protections provided by the current law (see our detailed analysis of the proposal) :

  • our cell phones could be tracked by shops or municipalities without our consent, for any purpose ;
  • our online activities on websites could be tracked without our consent for the purpose of « audience measurement » ;
  • websites could block access to users refusing to be tracked

This alarming draft regulation has been handed to the European Parliament, free to modify it for better or for worse (read the recommandations which we addressed to MEPs).

The lobby war

The ePrivacy regulation will affect a various numerous powerful actors (see their positions on our wiki). Each one of them finds interest in weakening our fundamental rights :

  • the telecommunications operators see in the ePrivacy reform a chance to authorise the analysis of our communications without our consent, which would give them a considerable new economic windfall ;
  • the other communications providers (email and others) want to escape from the consent requirement (currently solely imposed to operators) because it would fundamentally challenge their economic model based on the surveillance of their users for the advertising purposes ;
  • the online advertising companies see in the ePrivacy reform the chance to authorise the tracking of all internet-users without their consent, which would open up new opportunities for a generalised, commercial surveillance ;
  • the big newspaper publishers, having entirely renounced to their traditional economic model (the only model able to ensure quality journalism), are today entirely depending on their clients (the advertising companies) and forced to promote the interests of the latter (against the press's interest, as we already have tried to explain (fr) ) ;
  • the European governments have every interest that companies (willingly or not) keep track of the whole population, in order to put in place the most authoritarian surveillance measures, whose violence they no longer even hide./li>

The shared willingness among these actors to harm our fundamental rights has been perfectly mirrored by some MEPs, mostly from the right : see our analysis of the amendments tabled in the lead committee and our denouncement of one of the disastrous opinions adopted in the last months.

Thus, the situation appeared to be critical and we adapted our position by publishing new recommendations (fr) ).

The decisive role of the LIBE committee

The draft regulation was examined by different committees of the European Parliament, but it is the LIBE committee (« Civil Liberties ») which had the final say and was ought to adopt the Parliament's position. The MEP Marju Lauristin (S&D, the political group comprising European socio-democratic parties) was appointed to lead the debate within this committee.

At the outset, Lauristins overall vision did not seem fare away from La Quadrature du Net's. But ideological visions die hard in political institutions. Rather than defending intransigently her positions, Lauristin demonstrated a strong willingness to reach a compromise with the conservatives groups at all costs. The reason for this disastrous aim is to find the Parliament's rules of procedure.

The trilogues perverted rule

In principle, the EU can adopt new legal norms only if the Member States governments (represented within the Council of the EU) and the Parliament agree on an identical text. This can take time as several preparatory readings in both institutions are foreseen.

To counter heavy time delays, the Parliament's rules of procedure foresee the following : a lead committee (consisting of about 60 MEPs) adopts, alone, the Parliaments position. Also, this lead committee is given the mandate for negotiations with the Member States. Therefore, it is ought to agree, in the name of the whole Parliament, on a common text with Council of the EU.

This negotiation is called « trilogue » and famously known for it's total lack of transparency by radically depriving the whole populations of the possibility to participate in the debate. Once the trilogue has resulted in a mutual agreement, the Parliament and the Council only have to adopt the compromise text by a formal vote.

This is the conventional process. However, in the Parliament's rules of procedure it is foreseen, that the mandate to negotiate with the Council is automatically given to the lead committee. But a political group of the Parliament can veto this mandate. This prevents the Parliament from starting the trilogue, as the mandate has to be confirmed by the Parliament as a whole. If the mandate is rejected, the text adopted in the lead committee is no longer considered as the Parliaments position. In the latter case, the entire text is again open to amendments, but this time in plenary (see Rule 69c of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament).

The impossible compromise

This « risky » situation is what Lauristin wanted to avoid at all costs: if the conservative groups would not accept the text adopted in LIBE, they would oppose her mandate. All in all, Lauristin was convinced of two things: first, an examination in plenary could only be a sloppy examination, as most MEPs would not have (or would not be willing to take) the time to work out the details and second, that this would simply lead to amendments in favor of the ongoing fierce lobbying.

Therefore, Lauristin was willing to accept many compromises with the conservatives, which she kept estimating as « not as bad » as the outcome of plenary amendments in the case her mandate would be withdrawn.

La Quadrature du Net radically opposed this approach. First and principally, you won't defend fundamental freedoms by restricting parliamentary debates. Further, in this precise case, Lauristins compromises contested our rights so significantly, that accepting them in order to avoid « the worst » became completely obsolete for us.

Lauristin did no longer try to adjust the various infringements of our rights which proposed the European Commission back in January. Even worse, she was willing to allow the processing of our communications metadata without our consent (in perfect contradiction with current law, but in perfectly compliant with the Internet giants and operators aspirations, represented by the conservatives).

The glorious wake-up

It was at this point of the negotiations, when the intervening population has really made a difference for the defence of our rights by « augmenting pressure » on MEPs through mails, phone calls or public interventions from all over Europe, especially as a part of our ePrivacy campaign). La Quadrature du Net, joined by Acces Now and EDRi undertook to break down the absurd attempt to compromise with conservatives at all costs.

These three NGOs made very clear to the MEPs in LIBE that they would oppose the regulation as a whole, given the case that a compromise would imply surveillance measures as severe as the ones then discussed. They would enforce that the text would be rejected, so that the current law would stay intact.

This intervention (like a kick in the anthill) actually has set right the situation and MEPs like Jan Phillip Albrecht (Greens) picked up the courage they have been lacking so far. Lauristin was forced to ban the worst compromises from negotiations (essentially those concerning the analysis of metadata).

Some of the conservative MEPs were willing to follow Lauristin, causing a significant opposition of the majority of conservative MEPs willing to defend business interest without any concession. As the debate was finally repolarised, a cross-party compromise became impossible and the overall negotiations came to an end (our reaction reaction).

The missed opportunity

Finally, as the slight majority of LIBE was willing to follow Lauristin, she was free to improve the text. But her fear of loosing the majority prevailed. Also, the pro-business groups, by calling her mandate into plenary vote, achieved what Lauristin always wanted to avoid. She feared to go « too far » by defending our rights against the insanely dangerous economic interests.

Haunted by the idea that she could loose the mandate and that the text would be amended in plenary, Lauristin only removed the very last compromises proposed by the conservatives. Particularly, the two worst provisions of the Commissions proposal (offline tracking of our cellphones and online tracking for audience measurement) were barely regulated, whereas they should have been entirely prohibited.1

Eventually, this version of the text was adopted in LIBE on 19 October (by 31 votes against 25). We sorely criticize that the presupposed pro-privacy MEPs did not meet the expectations imposed by their image.

The important progress

In the last few months, regardless this missed opportunity, numerous progressive conditions were added to the text by civil rights NGOs, certain institutions and some MEPs seriously aware of our rights and freedoms. The finally adopted text provides for six key measures :

  • blocking access to a website on the sole ground that a specific user refuses that his/her activities on this website would be tracked is prohibited2 (contrary to what the Commissions proposal suggested) ;
  • electronic communication providers (telephone, ISP, email, instant messaging) have to guarantee communications confidentiality by technical measures according to the state of the art, such as cryptographic methods and especially end-to-end encryption. Further, Member States legislation shall not impose any obligations that would oblige these providers to use weaker methods (such as point-to-point) or introduce backdoors3 ;
  • electronic communication providers shall only collaborate with States for the purpose of fighting serious crime and public security breaches (these purposes are still way too broad, but at least excludes other unacceptable purposes enabling today's state surveillance, such as the defence of a State's economic interest or particular rights such as copyright)4 ;
  • companies sharing information with public authorities will have to document these activities in a public reports (indicating the number, the purposes and the authors of the information request, the type of transmitted data and the number of individuals concerned)5 ;
  • browser settings will have to ensure privacy by default and function like certain add blockers (hinder pop-ups and third-party attempts to track the user on a specific website)6 ;
  • our communications will be protected, no matter from where they're sent (current law barely protects communications sent from a network not « publicly available », such as corporate or university networks)7.
The fight ahead

The conservative groups joined forces in order to let the Parliament as a whole decide on weather Lauristins mandate for the trilogue should be withdrawn or not. On 26 October, her mandate was affirmed (318 against 280 votes) in plenary. Therewith, parliamentary debate came to an end and the LIBE report was ultimately adopted as the Parliaments position.

In the forthcoming months, it is up to Member State governments to agree on a joint position within the Council, so that the trilogue can start (Lauristin will be replaced by another MEP from S&D, Birgit Sippel).

The French government will play a key role in this process. We will be back soon with more details on it's position and on how we can further on join forces to defend our fundamental rights.

  • 1. By Article 8, paragraph 1, point d and paragraph 2a of the LIBE report, the European Parliament decided to allow the tracking of our phones as well as of our online activities exclusively for statistical purposes. Thereby, only exclusively anonymous information should be aggregated, so that the tracked individuals could not be identified in the resulting statistics. This limitation is alarmingly insufficient: the identification data required would be kept for as long as it takes to put up the statistic (for example, to find out how often and when you visited the same shop over the last two years, one has to identify every single customer during this period). Besides, anonymising sensitive data like our daily movements is hardly offering any protection regarding the constant development of re-identification technologies. What today seems to be anonymous is likely to give insight about our individual behaviour tomorrow. As such statistics would not be publicly available, but at the same time are likely to cover up the entire population and it's activities, this would provide extremely detailed information to anyone who has access. This creates a significant imbalance of knowledge, is extremely conducive to population monitoring policies and totally in opposition to democratic values. Then again, the simple publication of such statistics would not at all prevent from surveillance practices opposed to common interest. At last, presumed that such statistics would be legitimate, there should be no reason to fear that the population would not consent to it. Bypassing the consent of individuals is favorable for illegitimate purposes - purposes which the population, if consulted, would refuse.
  • 2. See article 8, paragraph 1a of the LIBE report.
  • 3. See article 17 of the LIBE report.
  • 4. See articles 11a and 11b of the LIBE report.
  • 5. See article 11c of the LIBE report.
  • 6. See article 10, paragraph 1, point a of the LIBE report.
  • 7. See article 4, paragraph 3, point -aa of the LIBE report, in opposition to article 5 of the current ePrivacy directive.
Categorieën: Technieuws

We still need you: La Quadrature du Net extends its support campaign

di, 12/19/2017 - 17:28

Paris, 18 December 2017 - La Quadrature du Net decided to extend its yearly support campaign started on November 14th. As a matter of fact, the intended goal of 320 000 euros to pay for the year 2018 is far from being achieved: thus far, we've reached 50% of the funds needed. To help us defending human rights in the digital age, support La Quadrature du Net : donate and share !

One month ago, La Quadrature du Net launched its yearly donation campaign. We need your support in order to keep financially independant what like to cal our mission: the defence of our rights and freedoms in the digital era. On this topic, the upcoming year appears to be heavilly challenging.

Between steady attacks on net neutrality (fr), especially in the USA and numerous impeachements of the lawfullness of encryption (fr), we have to stay vigilant and ensure that the Internet will stay what it still is: the main access to information and a fundamental tool for emancipation.

At the European level, we will continue our cooperation with the FDN Federation and other european associative networks, in order to carry on with the the follow-up work on the Telecom Package and especially on the European Electronic Communications Code. Facing pressure from States and telecommunication lobbies, we will defend the counter-powers represented by alternative, decentralised and democratic models.

Also, La Quadrature du Net will continue its work on the futur ePrivacy Regulation (fr) and fight for our communications privacy.
This is an obstacle to the hegemonic claims (fr)made by the Internet giants and we will not cease to encourage Members of the European Parliament and the French government to protect this fundamental principle.

Simultaneously, the General Data Protection Regulation (which was adopted last year at European level and will have to enter into force by May next year at Member State level) will offer new and thrilling possibilities to attack the Internet giants. We will get ready and gear up for the construction of a free Internet in accordance with the respect of our private life and our freedom of expression and we will encourage emancipation in times of 'algorithms' seeking to dehumanise our social relationships.

In France, as elsewhere, an illegitimate state surveillance of the whole population is still ongoing, whether by future excessive security laws already announced by the french government, or by its unwillingness to repeal the current data retention rules infringing the law of the European Union for almost a year now. Also on this point, La Quadrature will not stay on the defensive and therefore is already bringing together as many actors as possible. We manifestly refuse (fr)to unlawfully collaborate with a heavy-handed and unjustifiable mass surveillance in terms of data retention.

On top of these fights, La Quadrature du Net will continue to give support to existing free and decentralised software. We will further on fight for legal security in this field, but also stress crucial issues linked to the functioning of our association, such as:

  • our tools, including the one's at public disposal : what to do with, how and what's the objective? Soon, as one of the outcomes of this more general reflection on the use of our tools, you will find our new website and a whole new press review;;
  • how to operate: we started only in 2017 to imagine new modes of operation which we will continue to implement in 2018 (poster campaigns, happenings...), with the help of everyone who wants to join ;
  • internal organisation: we proposed membership to a first group of people in order to build La Quadrature of the future, including simultaneously all the contributers and donaters in facing this challenge !

2018 is going to be a key year for La Quadrature du Net, and for that reason we need to obtain a certain budget ensuring a proper outcome of our work. For now, we've only reached around 50% of our intended goal and decided to extend this campaign. Therefore, we insistently ask YOU, the ones supporting our cause and actions, to spread the word and to explain to the people around you why our work is necessary.

To contribute to the defence and strenghtening of our rights and freedoms, call out for donations on (by the way: recurring donations permit better visibility on our budget and facilitate the planning of our projects).

Thank you <3

Categorieën: Technieuws

For the European Parliament, personal data are not commodities!

di, 11/21/2017 - 16:30

Paris, 21 November 2017 -- This morning, the European Parliament has adopted its position on a new Directive regulating ‘contracts for the supply of digital content’. It has enacted a fundamental principle, already drawn few weeks ago in the ePrivacy Regulation: "personal data cannot be compared to a price, and therefore cannot be considered as a commodity’.

On 26 October 2017, the European Parliament has adopted its position on the ePrivacy Regulation, specifying that ‘no user shall be denied access to any [...] service [...] on grounds that he or she has not given his or her consent [...] to the processing of personal information [...] that is not necessary for the provision of that service’ (see art. 8, paragraph 1a, of the LIBE report).

This provision directly echoed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) adopted last year, which specifies (in article 7 and recital 43) that ‘consent is presumed not to be freely given [...] if the performance of a contract, including the provision of a service, is dependent on the consent despite such consent not being necessary for such performance’.

Today, the European Parliament has gone even further by stating explicitly that ‘personal data cannot be compared to a price, and therefore cannot be considered as a commodity’ (recital 13 of the report adopted today). We can only regret that the Parliament lacked the courage to draw all legal consequences from this statement and to clearly ban "services in exchange for personal data" kind of contracts. It refuses to explicitly ‘decide on whether such contracts should be allowed or not and leaves to national law the question of validity of [those] contracts’. But it also specifies that its position ‘should, in no way, give the impression that it legitimises or encourages a practice based on monetisation of personal data’ (see recital 13).

The text adopted today (just as the one adopted last month on ePrivacy) will still have to be discussed by Member States, which may weaken entirely those new specifications.

However, today, the Parliament made another clear step toward recognition of a fundamental principle, which La Quadrature du Net have been fighting for for years: personal data protection and privacy, as any other fundamental right, cannot be traded.

AttachmentSize digital_contant_cas_17-11-2017.pdf674.05 KB
Categorieën: Technieuws

La Quadrature du Net is our tool, let's sharpen it!

do, 11/16/2017 - 18:03

Paris, 14 November 2017 — At a time when attacks on our rights and freedoms on the Internet come stronger and stronger, and the debates we have to conduct are ever more complex and numerous, we more than ever all need tools to understand, communicate and act on our fundamental rights, a freer Internet, and greater respect for our privacy. We need tools like La Quadrature du Net.

La Quadrature has remained alive for all these years thanks to those who have always stepped up to support us with their time or donations. Thanks to you, our association can afford a paid staff able to produce and debate powerful critical analyses, to develop democratic tools that enable political action, and to carry out campaigns together with our allies and many activists.

Today we once more need your support to carry on our engagement, to face an ever more difficult political context and to renew ourselves through new ways to act and think.

Support La Quadrature du Net!

It is routine now to ask for your financial support once a year. The calendar goes like this: autumn comes, we turn the clock back, and then comes La Quadrature's campaign for donations :)

So let's keep up our good habits and come together, as we do every year, to take stock of how far we've come and to begin this campaign in good spirits. We will be gathering on November the 14th, at 7:00 PM at La Paillasse in Paris, and everywhere else through streaming.

This campaign will also be an opportunity to have some fun, thanks to a great tool coming straight from the hard work of La Quadrature du Net's contributors.

During this campaign, and in the context of this collective reflection on our actions, La Quadrature will have the pleasure of receiving les Exégètes amateurs for a special session dedicated to the many daring cases they have brought to court.

Likewise, many events will be organized in several cities across France to discuss and share our joint reflection and to further bolster our will to decentralize our actions and discussions.

Finally, our support campaign is also another opportunity for all of us to raise awareness about our causes. We invite everyone to do so using their favourite digital tools, but we will also be inviting you to take this to the streets during a whole week in December with flyers, posters and drawings!

We will keep you informed about the details of all these actions when the time comes.

Whether is it to assess how far we've come, to look to the future, to discuss or to be heard, nothing is possible without collaborative action. And that also goes for financing the toolbox that is La Quadrature, so that it can remain effective in defending our liberties on the Internet. Together we can do what it takes to keep our tools and keep them sharp!

We're counting on you. <3<3

Support La Quadrature du Net!

Categorieën: Technieuws

Wikimedia France and La Quadrature du Net defend the public domain before the Constitutional Council

wo, 11/08/2017 - 10:02

Paris, 6 November 2017 – In 2016, the Création law established a new right to use the image of national estates, such as the Chambord castle, the Louvre or the Élysée palaces. This provision allows their administrators to control the commercial use of images of these emblematic buildings and to demand license fees for those images. Considering how this measure threatens our legitimate rights to use our cultural heritage, Wikimedia France and La Quadrature du Net have attacked the implementing decrees applying this law, and raised a Question prioritaire de Constitutionnalité (priority constitutionality question)1. In a decision dated 25 October 20172, the Council of State accepted to transfer the matter to the Constitutional Council, considering the demand to be founded on new and serious grounds.

This new version of image rights stems from a so-called "Chambord amendment" tabled by legislators during the debates on the "Creation, Architecture and Patrimony" law (or Création law). It echoes a conflict dating back several years opposing the castle of Chambord and the Kronenbourg company regarding the use of the monument's image in an advertising campaign. As the courts hadn't yet resolved the matter, the Members of Parliament wanted to use this law to enshrine the possibility for estate administrators to control the use of the images of the historical monuments they are in charge of.

But in doing so, they have created a kind of "anti-freedom of panorama" which will forbid many legitimate uses of our patrimony. Copyright-wise, buildings like the Chambord castle or the Louvre do in fact belong in the public domain and their images should, for this reason, be freely usable. Moreover, this new layer of rights created ex nihilo will make it impossible to put photos of these historical monuments under free licenses and contribute them to sites like Wikimedia Commons (the repository of images and multimedia files linked to Wikipedia). Free licenses, by definition, authorise commercial use, and their effectiveness is threatened by the new provisions of French law.

The Création law does provide for certain exceptions, to the extent that commercial use will continue to be authorised if it is exercised “in the framework of activities in the public service or towards cultural, artistic, pedagogical, educational, research, or informational ends, or for news”. But beyond the fact that the exact limits of these exemptions will be very difficult to assess in practice, it is the precedent this law introduces that is dangerous in itself. In fact, in the future a legislator could extend this new law on image reproduction rights to all historical monuments, or even to all of the media holding ancient works (paintings, sculptures, etc.). If this were the case, the very existence of the public domain will be dangerously compromised, and with it, the cultural freedom of which it is the necessary condition. Commercial reuse is, incidentally, an integral part of these legitimate freedoms, as it is also through it that our cultural heritage is renewed and kept alive.

For these reasons, Wikimedia France and La Quadrature du Net have convinced the Council of State to bring the matter before the Constitutional Council to nullify these elements of the Création law on the basis of these arguments:

  • The Création law is contrary to the right to non-discriminatory access to culture, and its corollaries, freedom of cultural expression and the right to disseminate culture;
  • By creating ex nihilo a new possibility to restrict the use of images of national monuments, the law brings back a form of patrimonial law. But the many laws on copyright and authors rights adopted since the French Revolution have always made plans for patrimonial rights to require a time limit to permit works to enter the public domain. This has resulted in a fundamental principle recognised by the laws of the Republic, which Wikimedia France and La Quadrature du Net demand the Constitutional Council recognize;
  • In prohibiting the possibility for people who take photos of these monuments to make them available under a free license, the Création law prevents them from using their authors right, which is protected by the Constitution as part of the right to property. Moreover, the law calls into question the validity of licenses already granted, ignoring the freedom to enter into contracts;
  • The restrictions on commercial use that the Création law introduces constitute a disproportionate attack on freedom of enterprise;
  • Finally, the Création law uses very vague language, leaving considerable lattitude to estate managers as to whether or not to grant authorisations and to set the rates of licenses. In doing so, legislators have demonstrated their "negative incompetence"3 by not adequately regulating the administration's powers. This weakness in the law leaves the door open to arbitrary decisions in determining legitimate uses of our heritage.

The arguments raised in the application may still change or be elaborated on before the Constitutional Council. Wikimedia France and La Quadrature du Net publish today the memorandum presented to the Council of State which details these arguments.

It is ironic that a law on "freedom of creation" is the one to limit the use of our cultural heritage, gravely impair the public domain and limit the ability for individuals to disseminate their own works under free licenses. Wikimedia France and La Quadrature du Net consider that in the very interest of the vitality and dissemination of culture, uses of our heritage must remain as open as possible, and it is these liberties which they will defend before the French Constitutional Council.

  • 1. A French-specific procedure, the only possibility to challenge the constitutionality of a law is to ask the French Council of State (Conseil d'État, the French supreme administrative court) to accept the procedure and pass it on to the Constitutional Council (Conseil constitutionnel).
  • 2. Décision du Conseil d'État n°411055 du 25 octobre 2017.
  • 3. "Negative incompetence" consists of an institution ignoring the limits of its powers (incompetence), mistakenly believing them to be less extensive than they are (negative).
Categorieën: Technieuws

All of this just to play with toy cars…

ma, 11/06/2017 - 18:52

Paris, 6 November 2017 - La Quadrature du Net republishes below an op-ed by Oriane, President of the French Federation of associated providers of internet access, regarding the European Electronic Communications Code and its political implications. This op-ed was originally on her blog (in French).

First reading notes on the Telecoms Package.
As you may know, I have made a cursory reading of the European Telecommunications Code (Telecoms Package). Here are my first impressions, taken from my reading notes. They're a little late, they're mostly about the text's introduction, but it's better than nothing.

What is the Telecom Package?

Let's begin with a bit of context: the rules that oversee telecommunications in Europe today are spread over a number of texts1. In 2009, this corpus was revised and conveniently named “Telecoms Package”2. I still refer to this corpus of legal texts by this name because it is convenient. It is indeed a “legislative package”!

Following the 2015 regulation on the Open Internet and in line with the Digital Single Market goals, the Commission decided to undertake a new reform! The idea was to take all these scattered directives and assemble them back into a single directive. In itself a worthwhile thing to do. Except that it became an opportunity for the Commission to stick its nose into absolutely every text that oversees the telecoms market in Europe. It was announced as a minimal reform. Obviously it was not: it was the chance to slip loads of small changes in everywhere (and God knows that, in European Law, the Devil is in the details) under the guise of tidying it all up.

This is the dossier the FDN Federation's Regulation group chose to tackle. We know that the Telecoms Code isn't something one tinkers with every other day (more like every five years). We know the stakes are high. This text defines the frameworks of what the telco market will become in the next five years (which is to say, eons in Internet time): this is where that the European regulator, BEREC, is going to find the weapons to do its job. If certain practices need to be punished, this is where it will find the tools to do so. If one wants to see operators converge at a European level, this is where the conditions will be laid down. An enormous amount of things are decided at the European level.

A framework of interpretation centred on public interest

For us, there are important questions at the economic level: is there a place for small, alternative and local operators in the Digital Single Market? When the directive that birthed the BEREC reaches a quarter of a century, will we still be along for the ride? In all likelihood, our non-profit organisations will still be there, and they will keep working on analysing and defending Net neutrality. What space will be left for them in a largely hostile global telecom market is less clear.

Paradoxically, these aren't the most concerning questions. Before we worry about this, there is another set of questions which stems directly from our mission as defenders of Net neutrality: what society does this five-year plan for telecoms in Europe envision? Is it compatible with what we want? This question, this issue, is our first cause for concern. From this concern grows a framework of interpretation of telecoms regulation texts focused on their contribution to the public interest. Indeed, given that we do not defend any shareholders – we defend our members – we have a social project around the Internet. Strangely, this gives us a focus that is closer to public service than an operator's classic outlook.

What's the Commission's vision for society?

What I present to you here is my first impression. The text which follows mainly concerns the opening statements of the legislative text itself, the one where the Commission explains why it's important that we arm ourselves with a unified Code for telecommunications in Europe.

Starting form the beginning: when I started reading the text, I presumed that, being integrated as it is in the strategy of the Digital Single Market, produced by the Commission, which is an executive body in Europe, it would bear a political project. Having a political project means having a certain idea for society, an idea of what we're heading towards when taking legislative measure, reforming, allocating the budget to institutions. In Kantian terms (yes, I know), to have a political vision is to pursue an end and to accord all means at one's disposal towards reaching it. Thus, we don't build the same society (we don't pursue the same end) when we allocate the budget towards research and take measures that protect the privacy of constituents as we do when when we allocate budget towards the police and vote for laws to spy on people.

For me, the role of the Telecoms Package's opening text is precisely to give the legislator (European parliament, which studies the text) an idea of the outcome intended by the Commission, before presenting the means to get there (the legal provisions). So we've got twenty-odd pages meant to explain the Commission's vision, its findings, its goals, the impact studies it's carried out. I've read the text asking myself: "Before even knowing what the reform contains, what end is it aiming for? And is this end compatible with the goal that I myself aim for?

Well, despite the Commission's statement on their website (i.e. The European Commission "promotes the general interest"), the "public interest" is hardly present in the opening text3. Makes you wonder if the Commission wasn't actually making fun of us, given how easy it is to add something along those lines in an introduction (I'm not even talking about making it binding). Or, another option: we should straight up assume that public interest wasn't really the point of this reform, in which case they should take responsibility for it, and also change the website's grand title.

Launching a big reform of the European framework on digital issues, despite what the text's rapporteur Ms del Castillo may think, is not just aiming for 5G in 2025 – that's just a means. We're talking about changing the rules of the game that builds the main link between Europeans today. Yes, not just between companies and consumers, but between all Europeans. It's no little matter. It's what allows universities to lead fascinating research projects across several EU countries4, it's what makes it possible to be born in Brussels, study in Madrid and then set up a start-up in Berlin (wihtout losing touch with your family), it's what makes it possible to chat on Twitter with Thomas Pesquet who is on the board of the International Space Station. What people care about, the real game changer, isn't where 5G will be deployed or whether they can drive smart cars to work tomorrow.

What people do care about is, for instance: can they access information and cultural content from their house in the countryside like everybody else, or will it be restricted during peak hours? And not "tomorrow" as in 5 years from now, when a service provider will finally get around to it. Tomorrow as in within 48h, because they already have those needs and cultural practices5. The real question is: will the network give equal access to culture and information to all? Or should we just accept that some citizens will be second class and not be able to watch the same shows as everyone, because an email with a couple of holiday pictures is as much as their internet can handle? The end is connecting them to public space. The network is just the means.

When I started writing this article, the European Commissioner for Digital Society was Günther Oettinger, of whom we know that he has ties to the automobile industry and pays an ear to their arguments. Smart vehicles6 are the reason behind many features of the Telecom Package. This trend remained the same even though the file changed hands. Again, the text focuses on the means (like smart vehicles), but not the end.

The following is a brief overview, from my notes on the introduction, of the text's backbone assumptions. Please note that these are only sidenotes, and while I could produce a in-depth analysis of the text, due to time constraints I'd rather publish this than nothing (analysing a legislative text word-by-word is really time-consuming, and I still have a PhD to work on). Still, I believe that the introduction sets the tone for the rest of the text and can help in shedding some light to it all.

Distant from the citizens to make the shareholder's heart grow fonder

The introduction goes wrong at the very start, when it largely focuses on technology to set the context of this regulation. Naturally, the Commission then doesn't aim any further than facilitating the use of technical elements across the European territory. What a waste, a text pretending to be this great Code of Telecommunications, only to actually seriously lack ambition. These observations focus on means instead of ends, and that is why they lack vision.

Yet, with an opening sentence on how much the world has changed "since 2009", we could have expected a more general picture of what Europe has become, thanks to digital technology. A picture of what has been made possible thanks to the democratisation of access and of technical equipment. Which is not exactly what we find here. Moreover, we are promised "more innovation" in the future. But innovation isn't a value in itself or a plan for society. Improving mobility between Member States and communications between citizens to strengthen their ties, that's a project, that's an end. The means would for instance be abolishing roaming. In that case, you can see what the means and what the end is.

I have no idea what kind of project innovation stands for. Innovating, sure, but for what, and mainly, for whom? It is far from clear that it will profit everyone. Not clear at all. Do you really think the incredibly expensive gadgets that we've seen at CES (one of the faces of "innovation") will benefit most people? That they will decrease unemployment? That they will further civic rights such as freedom of expression, or insure diverse information in a democratic society? Really? Are the biggest problems that challenge Europe today (rising extremism, migratory flows, etc.) truly going to be solved by smart cars or smart shower heads?

As we keep reading, we find part of an answer. The word "consumer" comes back time and time again, throughout the whole legislative text (159 occurrences in the version from September 2016, without even counting the numerous amendments. The word "citizen" only appears 27 times in 238 pages). Clearly this text is not about citizens, but about "consumers". I don't know about you, but I wouldn't like my civil rights to be limited to consumer rights. It is pretty shocking, to see yourself be relegated from citizen to an individual pushing a shopping cart through a supermarket. I thought I was more than that, as a European citizen, and mostly: I thought Internet allowed me to do a little bit more than just pushing a virtual shopping cart.

In a consumer relationship, the one winning is the one selling the produt. If the people affected here are nothing but consumers, then citizens are not the ones winning.

The sad thing about it is that in this fight, I take the position of the public interest. I just wonder: what is the point of building a European network, even a European wifi7 if this project isn't about... the people it concerns the most? In this world view, how is this network useful, apart for enriching shareholders? How is it useful to us?

The kind of Europe I want to build

I am not passionately a European. The EU as it is today was build on foundations that aren't even the ones I want. I have been involved in enough European campaigns with La Quadrature to understand how these governing bodies work at that level. I know there is very little leeway. I know there is a lot of lobbying. I know that the European project was a matter of free trade and commerce first, not of human rights.

But I know what I would want to make of Europe. Look, we just celebrated the anniversary of Erasmus. The project behind Erasmus is to build a more unified Europe through discussion, through exchanging knowledge, through young and open minds. Now that, that seems essential to me. Remember, the European Union happened right after the war. It was carried by France and Germany, determined to do all it takes to stop fighting against one another. Strong commercial ties, but also cultural ties, because, well, if you understand your neighbour, you're less likely to want to hit them. Making students travel, letting them connect with other students, allowing them to exchange ideas, having them come back home with what they learned and ready to share their experience: those things aim for the kind of society I want.

In the same way, meshing Europe through local operators is one of the smartest answers to the challenge of unification. Local operators will know how to efficiently solve local problems. They will give citizens access to the tool that connects them to public space - the Internet. They will help unifying territories through connectivity in a sensible, intelligent way. This is counter-intuitive for technocrats. A technocrat thinks the best way to unify territories is through a nice homogeneous market with one single European mega-operator present everywhere and providing the same standard offer.

But territories resist thist plan. Geographers have known this for... a long time. In my field, Information and Communication Sciences, we know that territories are also build through media, through representations, through a highly complex interaction between very local and national levels. Local papers, for instance, are quite paradoxically powerful vectors for national cohesion. This is because they treat very local things as well as big national and international subjects, and thus integrate a local territory (region, city) in a larger whole (country). A national newspaper doesn't build this, or not as efficiently. Today, this integration on a large scale through a local territory happens more and more online, through social media for instance - which is exactly what I'm writing my dissertation on.

Telecoms don't escape these dynamics. They form the very specific infrastructure that allows people to build these complex links between self expression, representations of territory, national sentiment. Every day, when people go on Instagram and post a picture of what they see from their window, it connects them to their territory - that's the hypothesis I'm checking at the moment. And that is made possible because their neighbourhood has good 3G/4G coverage. It's easier to do this in Paris than in the middle of nowhere in the Corrèze. In other words: it's technically easier to build a link with your territory in Paris than in the Corrèze.

To make this possible in the middle of the Corrèze, to allow those landscapes to participate, to be a part of the colourful patchwork of ordinary images shared in #europe, to say "This is what Europe looks like over here", to make this kind of shared representation happen, it's way more efficient to get a local operator who knows the topology, the people, the problems specific to this or that small village, and who will know how to solve it specifically without wondering about cost-effectiveness. Way more efficient than to just pick something out of the prefabricated grid made up by MegaTelecom in an office in Berlin.

What's in stock is the second scenario. That won't create a European network. It will link Rome, Berlin and Paris, and do so very well. Linking Triffouillis-Sur-Glotte to Europe is not profitable. It will never draw enough customers. It's a shame, that was the core of it.

The world I want is not in the Commission and the Parliament's pipeline. They'd rather play with toy cars.

Categorieën: Technieuws

WIFI4EU will not be "free"

wo, 10/25/2017 - 18:17

Paris, 26 October 2017 — Yesterday, the EU officially signed the WIFI4EU Regulation, intended to promote Internet connectivity in local communities. By ignoring the open letter of the European open-Wifi community, this Regulation undermines the telecom ecosystem diversity. It dismisses the promotion of non-profit Internet Service Provider and enforces an authentication mechanism, forbidding what could have been free and open WiFi hotspots.

The European Commission's WIFI4EU inital proposal of September 2016 established the goal of developing Internet access in under-served areas by inciting local authorities to provide free WIFi hotspots. The European Parliament made some useful amendments, especially by calling for the promotion of non-profit ISPs. After six months of negotiations, it gave in to almost all of the dangerous propositions pushed by European governments. Thus, operators willing to benefit from the WIFI4EU funds will have to comply with requirements contradictory to the idea of free and open networks.

Authentication system

The future WIFI4EU hotspots will force users to authenticate in order to access the Internet. Regulating access to public networks is not backed by any substantial reasoning or impact assessment. The EU entirely ignored the inefficiency of such authentication systems: hotspot providers have no legal power to require users official identity. However, identifying all users has become obsolete since the CJEU stated that generally retaining all users' traffic data would breach the European Charter of Fundamental Rights1. EU law states that ISPs may only be compelled to retain traffic data related to a targeted individual2.

Furthermore, the Parliament and Member States easily agreed on the promotion of a single sign-on system used across the EU. But their accordance didn't lead to better regulation: it is neither clear if a public or private service will operate the authentication system, nor who will have access to its database. In this trade-off, the future WIFI4EU users' right to privacy is critically compromised, especially as the authentication requirement is imposed by state and for publicly funded services. With regard to the obligation for users to reveal their identity, as it is the case in most EU member states for the use of prepaid SIM cards, the European Court of Human Rights already questions this practice.

Data retention and traffic data

During those negotiations, the European Parliament has at least prevented future WIFI4EU-users from being targeted by commercial surveillance. Publicly-funded networks may not be used to monitor users' traffic data. Unfortunately, this does not prevent national law from imposing a general obligation to retain users' data on open-WiFi providers, despite the clear CJEU rulings on the matter3.

Community networks and SMEs

In order to foster diversity in the telecom sector, the Parliament tried to involve non-profit ISPs as potential beneficiaries of WIFI4EU funding. In the same way, local SMEs might have been promoted as key beneficiaries for the procurement and installation of equipments4. But the final agreement with Member States failed to address such improvements: the explicit call to promote the economic fabric of non-profit community networks, already providing open wireless connectivity with little or no public support, was erased. Therefore, WIFI4EU missed the chance to promote local employment, to spread technical skills and to diversify the telecoms sector. Instead, dominant players will reap most of the WIFI4EU subsidies.

The WIFI4EU Regulation lacks any ambition to establish a real "free" (as in freedom, not as in "free beers") and EU-wide WiFi access. Free access requires both anonymous access to the Internet and decentralised networks owned by those who run them. Favoring the usual suspects for the deployment of WIFI4EU hotspots will not solve the problem of unequally allocated connectivity and will inhibit innovation. This alarming and absurd trend reflects perfectly Member States' general policy direction undermining the safeguard of public interest in the telecom sector.

  • 1. CJEU ruling Tele2 Sverige AB (C-203/15) from 23 December 2016 firmly concludes that EU law precludes "national legislation which, for the purpose of fighting crime, provides for the general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data of all subscribers and registered users relating to all means of electronic communication."
  • 2. In the McFadden case, the CJEU stated that a judge can order an hotspot to be protected by a password and that users are required to reveal their identity in order to obtain the required password when it is necessary to prevent copyright infringements. However, such an order would be disproportionate in many cases - the retained data would not be limited to targeted individuals - and inefficient since the hotspot provider has no legal power to require users to reveal their official identity.
  • 3. See Tele2 case, above.
  • 4. The Regulation mentions only SMEs, but these are defined in EU law as "entit[ies] engaged in an economic activity, irrespective of its legal form." The notion can therefore include many non-profits that already work at the local level to provide flexible and affordable Internet access. See:
Categorieën: Technieuws

European Parliament failed to protect our Privacy

do, 10/19/2017 - 11:53

Brussels, 19 October 2017 — The European Parliament has just adopted its position on ePrivacy. It is bad. Major threats pushed by Internet giants were rejected, but the so-called "pro-privacy" groups failed to reject them all. Liberals, left-wing and ecologist groups lost sight of our fundamental rights in an absurd attempt to reach compromises at any cost.

The so-called "pro-privacy" groups (the liberals of ALDE, left-wing S&D and Greens) have lost months in negotiating with regressive right-wing groups (EPP and ECR), pursuing unreachable compromises. At the last minute, right-wing groups left the negotiation table, creating an opportunity for a reasonable text to be adopted. But this opportunity was not seized at all: the groups pretending to defend our privacy did not even try to improve the draft ePrivacy Regulation but only focused on winning today's vote. Shame on them.

The "balanced compromise" adopted today (as Jan Albrecht called it) contains two alarming measures that will only benefit US companies and monopolistic telcos:

  • allowing websites to track users without their consent for "web audience measuring" (hello Google Analytics and their friends!);
  • and allowing companies to track our devices in the streets, stations, commercial centers, anywhere, without our consent.

Ms. Lauristin (S&D), who drafted the text adopted today, will pretend that she has proudly defended our rights. Mr. Albrecht (Greens) and Ms. In't Veld (ALDE) will do the same. They should not be listened to. They had several opportunities to reach for a way better text and did not even try.

Lauristin will leave Parliament soon (having been elected in Estonian local positions). Ms. Sippel (member of S&D, left-wing group) will replace her. We call Ms. Sippel to have the courage her predecessor lacked of.

Ms. Sippel will need to be way stronger than Ms. Lauristin, because the text adopted today will probably be debated in a few months by the whole Parliament (today's vote was only in Committee)1. There, regressive right-wing groups will come back, supported by major US companies and monopolistic telcos, and the bad text adopted today will not help fighting them.

« The so-called "pro-privacy" political groups failed to protect us. The ePrivacy Regulation is taking an even darker path than before. Ms. Sippel will take the text back from Ms. Lauristin's hands. We urge her to do what other refused: to fight for our rights and to stop pursuing absurd and unreachable compromises with regressive groups. » claims Arthur Messaud, privacy defender of La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. It is doubtful that Ms. Sippel will be granted with a mandate for negotiations with the Council before a vote in plenary session. Thus, the text will probably go in plenary now.
Categorieën: Technieuws

Regressive group finally out of debate on our ePrivacy!

di, 10/17/2017 - 17:06

Brussels, 17 October 2017 – Today, the pro-privacy groups of the European Parliament have finally stopped negotiations with the regressive party (EPP1), which was trying to broadly allow the industry to monitor us online. It was time! They have no more excuse and must now draft an acceptable Regulation to protect our privacy. This is their last opportunity to redeem themselves.

The EPP has been blocking negotiations on ePrivacy Regulation for months, pushing absurd positions against our fundamental freedoms. Pro-privacy parties (S&D, ALDE, Greens and GUE2) have finally woken up and made the EPP leave the table. They now seem ready to draft a decent text… few days before its adoption.

Their long, nightmarish torpor has prevented them from addressing fundamental issues they must now deal with:

  • stores or cities must not be allowed to geolocate us without our consent;
  • Governments must not spy on us without a court order;
  • websites must not track us without our consent for any “audience measuring”;
  • communications must not be analysed without the consent of both sender and receiver(s);
  • our rights to encryption and to access the Internet anonymously must be ensured.

Pro-privacy parties, led by the rapporteur Marju Lauristin, have already lost too much time. If they failed to seize today’s opportunity to adopt all of the measures listed above, they would bear the responsibility for the future state of our lost privacy.

Ms Lauristin will leave the European Parliament few days after the vote (she’s been elected in local Estonian elections). This is her last opportunity to act in favor of Europeans and our freedoms, and to be remembered as such.

  • 1. The European People's Party
  • 2. S&D is the Socialist & Democrats group, ALDE is the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats, Greens gathers the European Greens groups and GUE is the European United Left
Categorieën: Technieuws

ePrivacy: European Parliament must stop Michal Boni

wo, 10/11/2017 - 16:56

Paris, 11 October 2017 - European Parliament's right-wing has put Michal Boni in charge of defending big companies' interests on the ePrivacy Regulation. His fight against our fundamental freedoms have met weak opposition. Unable to defend strong and consistent positions, the left-wing and Greens have given up many 'compromises' to Boni, turning the future Regulation into a much worse law than the one we have today. Unless they stop him now, they will share this responsibility.

'I'm the bad guy, so kill me!'. This is the only answer Michal Boni was able to give when we asked him whether he was truly ready to sell off the numerous protections of our communications currently provided by EU law. Indeed, Mr Boni (the shadow rapporteur1 of EPP2 group on ePrivacy) is pushing the exact same proposals that big companies have been requesting for months (read his amendments on our wiki).

Michal Boni

Many of these proposals have already been accepted as 'compromises' by Ms Lauristin (main rapporteur, from the left-wing group S&D) and Mr Albrecht (shadow rapporteur, from the Greens), who have given up our freedoms step by step. Their only objective seems to draft a text that all political groups may agree on, at any cost. But the cost is high. They are ready to let Boni:

  • allowing stores, malls or cities to geolocate our devices without our consent;
  • allowing companies to monitor communication metadata without the consent of the senders (by simply sending an email to a Gmail account, Google would be able to list when, where and who you are communicating with)3;
  • allowing companies to track their users without their consent in order to 'measure the reach' of their website (to know from what place or through which link we access a website, or to collect any relevant information defining the 'targets' - us - they've reached);
  • allowing websites to block access to users not willing to give up their personal data (their only alternative would be to pay with money, which means that we would need to buy back our fundamental right to privacy)4.

Marju Lauristin & Jan Philipp Albrecht

All of these changes would allow practices strongly prohibited by the current law. But Lauristin and Albrecht are ready to feed Boni with even more 'compromises'. The last one Lauristin has put on the table would allow companies to process metadata of all our communications (where we are calling from, what websites we visit, when we send texts...) for 'statistical purposes in the public interest'. This extremely vague exception would only enable businesses to make more profit with our privacy and without our consent.

Ms Lauristin and Mr Albrecht must awake from their torpor and reject all of these compromises. If they do not, they should no longer pretend to protect our rights and freedoms.

Learn more, spread the message and act now on:

  • 1. Political groups of the Europeans Parliament appoint one of their members as the 'shadow rapporteur' of a text discussed in Parliament. His/her role is to define and defend his/her group's position
  • 2. EPP is a political group gathering the right-wing Members of the European Parliament
  • 3. The current compromise amendments require the consent of only one person for metadata processing, whereas they explicitly requires 'all users concerned' to give their consent for the processing of content.
  • 4. The current compromise amendments on recital 22 specifies that users refusing to give their consent 'shall be given other fair and reasonable options to access the service'; in practice, this would systematically mean paying with money.
AttachmentSize boni.jpeg51.05 KB lauristin&albrecht.jpeg173.46 KB
Categorieën: Technieuws

Another Disastrous Opinion on ePrivacy, Act Now!

di, 10/03/2017 - 14:26

Paris, 3 October 2017 – Yesterday, the ITRE (‘industry') Committee of the European Parliament has adopted its Opinion on the ePrivacy Regulation. This Opinion is pretty much the same calamity that has been adopted last week by the IMCO ('consumers protection') Committee, calling for a general bypassing of users' consent. Fortunately, these are just 'opinions' and will not bind the LIBE (‘civil liberties’) Committee voting on its final Report on 11 October. Still, these Opinions clearly reflect how some Members of the European Parliament are ready to sell out our privacy to big firms. Call them now to reverse this trend.

The majority of the ITRE Committee, led by their liberal rapporteur Kaja Kallas, aims for enabling companies to bypass our consent for analysing metadata of our communications (who we are communicating with, when, how, from where...). This would apply to any purpose considered ‘compatible’ with the service they provide. A 'compatible' purpose may mean anything, is purposely vague and, in fact, would just allow companies to monitor our communications, to list the IP addresses we connect to and to geolocate us only for economic purposes.

Furthermore, the ITRE Opinion is in favor of allowing companies to geolocate our phones in stores, streets or cites without our consent. It appears that the ITRE Opinion is even weaker than the initial Proposal: companies would no longer be required to display posters in the monitored area in order to inform us about such measures.

Finally, the majority of ITRE Members want our personal data to be traded just as money. Users not willing to share their data may be blocked from websites, unless they pay a subscription. Putting people in a situation where they have to trade their fundamental rights is the shortest way to crush the very purpose of such rights.

Amendments identical to these absurd and dangerous Opinions have been tabled in the LIBE Committee, which will vote its decisive Report on 11 October. Call LIBE Members now and require such amendments to be rejected.

Learn more, spread the message and act now on:

Categorieën: Technieuws

European Governments Seek Greater Oligopolization of Telecom Infrastructures

di, 10/03/2017 - 09:22

3 October 2017 - In March, more than 31 European Community Networks (CNs) wrote an open letter to EU policy-makers, stressing the need for an adaptation of the European legal framework aimed at helping these citizen-driven initiatives flourish, thus supporting alternative, democratic and sustainable ways to meet the goals of broadband policies. But rather than opening the door to a much-needed diversification of the telecom ecosystem, European governments only seek to reinforce the dominant positions of incumbent players. As the EU gets closer to a deal over the future of European telecom regulation, the EU Parliament must resist the pressure and reaffirm its commitment to the public interest.

The European Parliament voted yesterday evening on the draft European Code for Electronic Communications, which will form the basis of telecom regulation across the EU for the next decades. The worst was avoided thanks to a majority of members of the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) who resisted calls for a sweeping deregulation. The version adopted by the committee maintains enough room for National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) to regulate monopolistic situations and take Community Networks (CNs) into consideration1, for instance by giving them access to optical fiber networks or promoting shared and unlicensed access to the radio spectrum, which can be essential to swiftly build affordable and flexible networks.

The Members of EU Parliament responsible of the text -- in particular the rapporteur Pilar del Castillo, known for being close to the Spanish incumbent Telefonica -- will now have to negotiate with the EU Council, which represents European governments. But these so-called "trialogue negotiations" have an obvious lack of transparency, making them very difficult to follow. This is all the more worrying given that the EU Council has drafted a very alarming version of the draft code, which aims at overhauling pro-diversity policies and at encouraging the oligopolization of telecom infrastructures.

On access regulation, the Council wants to see a 7-year period without regulation after new network deployments (such as newly rolled-out optical fiber networks). The national regulatory authorities would then have no way of imposing pro-competitive obligations on incumbents, giving big telcos all latitude to extend their oligopolistic positions at the detriment of CNs and other cooperative or non-profit operators. Should the Council proposal prevail, we will witness the disappearance of small alternative network operators.

On radio spectrum, the EU Council intends to preserve the Governments' control over this vital resource, which will allow them to pursue ill-advised policies benefiting the biggest operators and failing to make the best out of the radio commons. In particular, this will undermine the alleged efforts from the European Commission to develop and extend the shared and unlicenced access spectrum, which enables the development of cooperative or non-profit operators and boosts diversity in the telecom sector.

On institutional aspects, the Council wants to let Member States decide which authority shall ensure market supervision and users' rights. By allowing for the circumvention of NRAs, this could undermine any form of independent national regulation as well as any form of coordination at European level.

In a policy domain that has for too long been prone to regulatory capture by private interests, we call on the Members of the European Parliament to defend the public interest by promoting pro-competition and pro-diversity policies. By resisting the pressure of European governments who seek to further entrench the power of the largest industry players over network infrastructures, our elected representatives can ensure that alternative operators and local communities have the adequate means to develop and innovate, offering forward-looking models and services to the benefit of all.

Association Viviers Fibre
Chaos Computer Club Lëtzebuerg
BlueLink Foundation
Fédération FDN
Frënn vun der Ënn
Instituto Bem Estar Brasil
La Quadrature du Net
Open Technologies Alliance - GFOSS
Renewable Freedom Foundation Non Profit Organization

  • 1. See, in particular, articles 74 and 77.
Categorieën: Technieuws