EC Telco Vote: Content/Network Split Nears, ISP Monitoring Denied

imageTwo European Parliament committees last night approved the so-called EU Telecoms Package, a wide-ranging set of housekeeping measures on telecoms regulation that will allow media regulators in EU states to force telcos to split their network businesses from their content units. This “functional separation” is a pro-competition measure, and one which the UK’s Ofcom already used under its own steam in 2005, when it compelled BT (NYSE: BT) to create its Openreach network business.

Certain amendments to the package yesterday saw some news media swallow digital advocates’ claims that, somehow, France was seeking to use the measures to take its “three-strikes” ISP monitoring policy continent-wide…

But the author of the amendments in question, UK Tory MEP Malcolm Harbour (pictured), last night explained (via Reuters) that, whilst the legislation calls for public bodies to advise customers on illegal uses of the internet: “There is no requirement for any policing or reporting action. Some people have suggested this amendment opens the door for an ISP to police the internet; this is absolutely not the case.”

Indeed, the European Parliament in April voted that ISP disconnection like that in France “conflicts with civil liberties and human rights”.

Media commissioner Viviane Reding failed in her bid to create a pan-European media regulator but an amendment passed bolstering the role of the existing Body of European Regulators in Telecommunications (BERT), which, in another defeat to Reding, will not be given veto over individual state regulators.