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Calls for ISPs to filter content could be illegal, EU council documents suggest

Loek Essers | Jan. 22, 2015
Last week justice ministers from across the European Union called on ISPs to conduct voluntary censorship of online content -- but documents in preparation for a meeting of telecoms ministers suggest such a move could be illegal.

McNamee wasn't entirely happy with the net neutrality draft proposal revealed in the Latvian working documents, which he described as still "extremely confused and deeply destructive to net neutrality."

The Latvian presidency plans to discuss changes to three articles of the proposed text at a meeting of the Council's working party on Jan. 27, which will prepare documents for a meeting of telecommunications minsters.

Latvia has proposed completing the definitions in Article 2 with one for an Internet access service, which it defines as "a publicly available electronic communications service that provides access to the Internet ... irrespective of the network technology and terminal equipment used," in order to distinguish it from other electronic communications services provided over the same infrastructure that require a "specific level of quality".

Changes to Article 23 will also be discussed. This reduces the number of grounds on which providers can block content from six to four. The article further stresses the right of users to an open Internet and the freedom of electronic communication providers to offer services other than Internet access over their infrastructure, provided that there is "no demonstrable negative impact on the availability and general quality of internet access services."

Article 24, which aims to regulate how national authorities can monitor service providers' compliance with the rules set out in Article 23, will also be on the agenda.

In addition to discussion of the proposed modifications to the text, and the legality of allowing ISPs to block content, the Latvians will also sound out member states' support for a ban on positive price discrimination in telecommunications services across the EU.


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