Europe getting 'Internet freedom' law

Major overhaul of telecommunications regulations tackles issues ranging from data-breach notification to faster number porting to Internet access.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Europe is set to get a major overhaul of its telecommunications regulation, after the European Parliament and Council of Telecoms Ministers reached a compromise on the rights of Internet users.

The Telecoms Reform Package is a raft of new laws that tackle issues ranging from data-breach notification to faster number porting. Following an agreement reached on Wednesday night, the package will now become part of national legislation in every EU country, with a deadline of May 2011.

A version of the package was passed by the European Parliament in May. However, it was rejected by the Council of Telecoms Ministers, because it contained a provision, Amendment 138/46, that would have made it impossible for member states to enact "three-strikes" laws. Three-strikes legislation lets countries disconnect Internet users who are suspected of the unlawful file-sharing of copyrighted material, such as music or movies, after sending them two warnings.

Amendment 138/46 became the only sticking point in the package's progress. The matter was turned over to delegates from the European Parliament and the Council of Telecoms Ministers, who negotiated a compromise text for the clause. The reworked amendment is now Article 1(3)a of the Framework Directive, one of the five directives that forms the package.

The conciliation process that led to the agreement was shepherded by the European Commission. In a statement Thursday, telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding welcomed the agreed "Internet freedom provision", which she said had gained the unanimous support of all negotiators.

Read more of "European 'Internet freedom' law agreed" at ZDNet UK.

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