Tuesday, July 08, 2008

MEPs back telecoms package with 3 strikes amendment

The BBC is reporting that MEPs have voted in favour of the telecoms package with the 800 amendments relating to everything from online privacy invasion to lack of due process banning people from the internet for suspected copyright infringement.

You'll recall that the IMCO (Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection) and the ITRE (Committee on Industry, Research and Energy) were considering the package yesterday. There are no direct details from either of these committees yet to see what exactly was discussed or agreed.

UK Conservative MEP
Malcolm Harbour has been rolled out to explain how dismayed the MEPs are at the misunderstanding of their intentions. He made a heartfelt plea to be seen to be working towards protecting and improving internet users rights and claimed that this was what the telecoms package was really about.

The IMCO committee is chaired by UK Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy. Now why am I putting those two names together in the recesses of my mind with an IP expansionist agenda? Well it could be because Harbour and McCarthy were a couple of the prime movers, along with rapporteur Janelly Fourtou (wife of Jean-Rene Fourtou, CEO of Vivendi Universal), behind fast tracking the intellectual property rights enforcement directive in 2004? Isn't that nice - Labour and Conservative working in harmony.

They failed at the time to get the absolute worst excesses of the original draft of that directive through - which would have included provisions to jail teenagers (and the managers of the ISPs they used) for swapping songs on the Net - but they are working hard on getting these included in the second IPR enforcement directive, coming to the EU and a member state near you very soon.

McCarthy incidentally was the rapporteur who drove the software patents directive to the edge of implementation too. Software patent anoraks will recall that there were several attempts to slip that one through the agriculture and fisheries committee without discussion.

I presume, therefore, I can be forgiven for not accepting at face value statements from Mr Harbour that he's really looking out for the interests of ordinary Internet users when he supports complex legislative monsters like the telecoms package and its inherent regulatory timebombs. He may even be sincere in that belief but he needs to realise that the interests of agents (commerce), creators and the public are not exactly aligned or coincident though they do sometimes overlap.

Update: Lilian at least is feeling cheered by Mr Harbour's assurances.

No comments: