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Grave threats to internet freedoms concocted by European parliament

Dear European friends,

Monica Horten warns us that we should be very concerned!!

From http://www.iptegrity.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=270&Itemid=9 :

Poisoned fish in the Trautmann report
Written by Monica Horten
Mar 05, 2009 at 11:58 PM

Interconnection of ‘restricted' networks. ‘Fair and reasonable access' proposed as substitute for end-to-end connectivity. Users rights to be limited by 'traffic management policies'.

An amendment to the Access Directive in the Telecoms Package (European Parliament's revised text - Trautman report) proposes to make Internet Service Providers (ISPs) declare ‘restrictions on service' in relation to interconnection with other ISP networks. It is the same language as the AT&T amendments, which are about the telcos putting in "traffic management systems".

Another amendment to the access directive proposes that ‘fair and reasonable access' may be offered as an alternative to end to end connectivity.

A third amendment in the Framework directive sets out that users have "unrestricted access to content, services and applications..in conformity with ... disclosure regarding traffic management policies.." Whilst it contains the guarantee of unrestricted access, it would appear to immediately limit that right according to the network operator's traffic management policies. It must therefore be interpreted as restricting users rights and that is will de facto permit telcos to

implement restrictions on users services.

It is fair to ask the question as to whether we will have an Internet, if these amendments go ahead. Interconnection of ‘restricted' networks - depending on how the word 'restrictions' is interpreted - risks undermining the Internet. ‘Fair and reasonable access' is not a substitute for end-to-end connectivity. And users rights should not be limited by 'traffic management policies'.

This is ill-thought through, and stands to cause untold damage to the Internet as we know it unless considerably more work is done to undertand and define what the telcos want to do and what is acceptable for business and for consumer users. The whole principle on which the Internet is built, is that networks ‘peer' with each other and that users are offered end-to-end connectivity. That means networks connect in the same way that one might connect two water pipes, and each carries traffic for the other, on an equal basis. Networks do not know or care, what the traffic is. They do not have to declare to each other what content they are carrying and what they are restricting. They do have to deal with each other on interconnection matters, but that should be at a technical level, and not relate to users' rights to access content.

These amendments risk taking us back to the old days, when networks were restrictive and privately-owned and controlled. Users were limited to transmitting to those people who were on the same network and could not put up their own content.

Unless the rapporteur puts in more time to consult widely and understand the issues fully, and to ensure that the requirements are correctly definined, this risks upsetting the economics of the ISP industry, which is built on peering arrangements.

Worse still, it risks causing down-the-line economic damange to businesses large and small, which have invested in web and e-commerce sites on the basis that they have unrestricted access to a global market.

It stands to shrink, rather than grow, the Information Society and the digital economy. The only things that will grow is the telcos share of national television markets - as that is one of the drivers behind the "traffic management" amendments.

Mrs Trautman has been ill-advised to permit them to get in, without having consulted more widely. It is very disappointing, as Mrs Trautmann has a reputation for being ‘a good captain'.

Sadly, these may well be the poisoned fish that pollute the entire river.

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