On Monday, 24 February, the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament will vote on the European Commission’s Telecoms Single Market proposal. This proposal includes provisions that put the future of the internet at risk as if not adequately amended, it would allow telcos to restrict the rights of internet users and establish a two-tiered internet in Europe.
Over the past few months, four different parliament Committees have adopted opinion reports to modify the Telecoms Single Market proposal. In addition, all political parties in the ITRE Committee have proposed several amendments to the text. Yet contrary to the collective input to improve the Commission’s proposal, Pilar del Castillo remained firm and included only minor modifications to her proposals, which weaken users’ rights and empower telecommunications companies to engage in online discrimination. On Monday, the ITRE Committee will vote on Ms. Del Castillo‘s proposed text before the decision is brought before the European Parliament as a whole in April.
Last minute negotiations
Representatives from the socialists (S&D) and the Green/EFA groups put forward alternative amendments for ITRE Committee members to consider and adopt during the vote on Monday. While Access believes there is still room for improvement in the alternative text put forward by Catherine Trautmann (S&D), it brings needed legal clarity and closes dangerous loopholes left in Ms. Del Castillo’s proposal.
One day before the vote, members of the ITRE committee need to hear from the public. Access, together with NGOs across Europe, launched savetheinternet.eu to provide a platform where internet users can learn more about the importance of net neutrality, the current ITRE proposal and most importantly, directly contact Members of the Parliament (MEP) to voice their objection to Ms. Del Castillo’s proposed text that will authorise new forms of network discrimination in Europe. This site is available in nine languages and allows users call, email, or fax MEPs (free of charge).
Now is the time for Europeans who care about the future of the open internet to reach out to MEPs. While MEPs are en route from their offices in Brussels to Strasbourg, they have their mobile phones and access to email. Concerned users can ask ITRE members via Twitter to protect the open internet and guarantee net neutrality in Europe.
Below are sample tweets to help, but feel free to use your own. Please remember to be respectful and polite.
– On 24 February, @EP_Industry Committee will vote on the future of the free and open #internet. MEPs must protect #NetNeutrality!
– Members of @EP_Industry must protect #Innovation in the #telecom market by having a clear definition of specialised services.
– Dear @EP_Industry members, please vote in favour of #NetNeutrality. Support S&D #AlternateCAs!