The European Parliament has backed out on an amendment to its laws designed to protect citizens' freedom in the online world.
Amendment 138, which had been adopted twice by an 88 per cent majority in the plenary assembly, was turned into a toothless wonder after pressure from member states.
The amendment would have prevented governments from cutting off internet access without a court order, and will be replaced by a weak provision.
Human rights groups have said that the knifing of the amendment was designed to avoid a face-off with the EU Council, and get the Telecoms Reform Package approved and into law.
Jérémie Zimmermann, a spokesman for lobby group La Quadrature du Net, said that amendment 138 was dissolved "in haste" into "useless legalese and soft consensus".
The European Parliament hurried to get rid of safeguards for citizens' freedoms because it knew that, with the Lisbon treaty, both institutions will soon share the legislative power in the field of judicial affairs. This would make any attempts to change the amendment null and void, according to Zimmermann.
"The bad excuses we have heard these past few days to justify [abandoning] Amendment 138 will then be totally obsolete," he claimed.
Basically, the EU Parliament was not brave enough to stand against the Council to defend citizens' freedoms, Zimmermann said.
Meanwhile, in the US it is starting to look like the telcos will not get their way on net neutrality, despite all the money they have spent lobbying politicians to allow them to develop a two-tiered internet.
According to The Washington Post, despite all that AT&T and other old line telecom and cable companies have spent pushing their cause, they are poised to lose a key vote to their younger technology counterparts.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is tipped to vote in favour of rules to let the government oversee access to the internet.
This means that AT&T plus traditional public utilities commissions and large insurance companies will be joined at the table by internet technology companies.
The FCC vote will be on a proposal that would begin a months-long process to formulate rules on how internet service providers manage traffic on their networks while not blocking or unfairly slowing some content.
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