From La Quadrature du Net
Jump to navigationJump to search

Political Memory: Colm BURKE, former MEP

{{#icon:ColmBurke.jpg|Colm BURKE}}

General Data

Functions in European Parliament

  • 19/06/2007 - 13/07/2009 : Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats (Member)
  • 19/06/2007 - 13/07/2009 : Committee on Fisheries (Substitute)
  • 19/06/2007 - 13/07/2009 : Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (Substitute)
  • 19/06/2007 - 13/07/2009 : Delegation for relations with Iran (Substitute)
  • 20/06/2007 - 13/07/2009 : Committee on Foreign Affairs (Member)
  • 20/06/2007 - 13/07/2009 : Delegation for relations with the United States (Member)

Curriculum Vitae

  • Bachelor of Civil Law, University College Cork (1978)
  • Incorporated Law Society of Ireland
  • Qualified as a solicitor (1982)
  • Solicitor, Principal of Colm Burke and Co
  • Solicitors (1982-2007)
  • Young Fine Gael: member of the National Executive (1978-1982)
  • National Chairperson (1980-1981)
  • Member of the Fine Gael National Executive (1981-1982)
  • Member of Cork City Council (1995-2007)
  • For various periods during that time Chairperson of the Arts, Housing, Environment, and Planning and Development Committees
  • Lord Mayor of Cork (2003-2004)
  • Chairperson of the Board of Management of Blackpool Community Centre





Thanks to improve this part with opinions from Colm BURKE about La Quadrature du Net concerned issues (see page Help:Political_Memory to know how to do it).

09/07/2008 Reply to campaign concerning vote on IMCO & ITRE of Telecoms package

Thank you for your e-mail concerning certain aspects of the Telecoms reform package, which is now going through the European Parliament.

As mentioned in a previous email, I now want to update you following the vote on July 7th in the Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, which produced a very large majority in favour of a series of amendments that significantly enhance users´ rights in electronic communications. These amendments were broadly supported by all major political groups including the EPP, the PSE, the Greens and ALDE.

I will also address the issue of the misrepresentation of Mr Harbour and Mr Kamall's amendments at the end of the email, by la Quadrature du Net.

Some of the key points are summarised below:

* Users will now be informed by operators, before contracts are concluded, about any restrictions on access to services (such as Skype).

* Market demand and competition between operators will decide whether they see any point in restricting access. The IMCO vote does not give governments new powers to decide that, or to make applications illegal.

* Where handsets or other terminal equipment are included free, or at a subsidised price, users must be informed of the cost of terminating their agreement early.

* Number porting (the process of keeping a number when switching networks) will now take one day (while it has previously taken up to one month). However, there are also provisions in case of slamming (when a consumer is switched to another network without their consent) which will allow NRAs to intervene in such cases.

* Promotion of the European 112 emergency call number across the EU, and measures to speed up the availability of mobile caller location when emergency calls are made. This is complementary to existing national emergency numbers.

* Disabled users will have equivalent access to communications with special terminal equipment for their needs.

The need to keep the Internet open by empowering regulators to intervene if a carrier discriminated against a particular service provider - for example, by blocking or slowing traffic.

* Regulators would be given enabling powers to allow standardised public service messages to be delivered to users. These service messages could include security protection advice, and advice on harmful or unlawful uses of the Internet, and their potential consequences. The information would be sent to all users, not to targeted individuals and not based on individual usage. Copyright infringement is just one of the areas that might be covered, but it will be up to public authorities to supply the information.

* Under Parliament's rules, the Committee also accepted, without a vote, a set of amendments from the Civil Liberties Committee on data protection. These include significant new requirements for operators to inform subscribers in the event of any breach of their personal data through electronic networks.

The level of cross party support confirm that MEPs totally reject the claims that these amendments are intended to reduce consumer choice and undermine individual freedom. In particular, the Directive contains no provisions on Copyright Law enforcement, not does it refer, in any way, to the French Government's proposed enforcement agreement.

Members of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee were highly critical of lobbyists who had completely misrepresented the objectives of the legislation. Nevertheless, they welcome further constructive suggestions for improvements to ensure that the text has no "unintended consequences" that infringe consumer rights. MEPs will examine the detailed drafting of all amendments before the final approval by Parliament in September.

Justification of amendments tabled by Mr Harbour and Mr Kamall

As is clear from the text, amendment H1 in fact gives national regulatory authorities and the Commission the power to take appropriate action to prevent degradation and slowing of traffic and against unreasonable restrictions of users' possibilities to access or distribute lawful content or to run lawful applications and services of their choice. Furthermore, recital 14 starts with the words: "It should be the end-users' decision what lawful content they want to be able to send and receive, and which services, applications, hardware and software they want to use for such purposes..." It also notes that "an unrestricted basic internet service" could be required as a response to a perceived problem.

It is evident that this protection should not extend to any unlawful content or applications. In fact, the question of lawfulness is outside the scope of this legislation and depends on the national laws of each country. It is to be decided by the relevant judicial authorities of each country, not by the ISPs.

Amendment K1 refers to the free movement of goods and makes it clear that a country can not start requiring manufacturers to incorporate features that would allow detecting or preventing for example copyright infringement, as that would hinder the free movement of the computers and other terminal equipment concerned. Any such requirements would have to be agreed by all member states of the EU. We are not aware of any such proposals.

K2 (tabled by Syed Kamall) was withdrawn.

Amendment H2 asks national regulatory authorities to promote - not force - cooperation, as appropriate, regarding protection and promotion of lawful content. It is entirely independent of "flexible response" and does not prescribe the outcome of any such cooperation.

As opposed to the text proposed by the Commission, amendment H3 shifts the burden of explaining the law from the ISPs to the appropriate national authorities. It also broadens the concept so that any type of unlawful activities are covered, not only copyright infringement. Such other activities could be for example child pornography. This public interest information would be prepared by the relevant national authority and then simply distributed by the ISP to all their customers. It involves no monitoring of individual customer usage of the internet.

None of the amendments have been drafted by any outside lobbying organisation.

I hope that clarifies the situation for you sufficiently. I welcome any further input you may have, so do not hesitate to contact me on this.

Yours sincerely,

Colm Burke MEP.