EU reaches agreement on proposed telecom rules

The European Union (EU) came one step closer to getting its proposed new telecom laws on the books. Yesterday, EU lawmakers agreed to a provision that will enable users accused of illegally downloading copyrighted material to get a hearing before being banished by Internet providers. Since May, the illegal Internet usage issue held up the passing of the new laws because Parliament believed the earlier proposal did not protect Internet users' rights.  

Members of the European Parliament and EU member countries jointly said anyone that is suspected of illegal Internet use should have the right to a "prior, fair and impartial" hearing. This comes in contrast to proposals made by both France and the U.K. who proposed a three-strikes law that would shut down a user without warning if they illegally downloaded copyrighted material three times. Of course, each of the EU member countries can shut down a user immediately if they are believed to be using the web to conduct terrorism, organized crime and child pornography.

This latest development will accelerate the realignment of Europe's telecom rules that are set to go into effect early next year. Along with providing abusive users with a fair trial, the EU would also like to create a 'unified' set of telecom regulations throughout Europe and give national regulators and the EU expanded oversight to penalize anti-competitive practices made by any service provider.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal via Dow Jones, industry associations said the removal of this last obstacle will give large service providers such as Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica the confidence to make new network investments.

"This marks the end of a long period of uncertainty for the telecoms sector," said ETNO, the Brussels-based industry association that represents large European telcos.

For more:
- Wall Street Journal via Dow Jones has this article

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