EU leaders agree on Internet access safeguards

A user’s Internet access may be restricted, if necessary and proportionate, only after a fair and impartial procedure including the user’s right to be heard. Member of the European Parliament (MEPs) and Council representatives agreed in negotiations on Wednesday night on this, the last open issue in the telecoms package.

The two sides had already agreed in May that internet is essential for the exercise of fundamental rights such as the right to education, freedom of expression and access to information. So MEPs insisted on establishing adequate procedural safeguards for Internet access.

Restrictions on a user’s internet access may “only be imposed if they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society”, agreed MEPs and Council representatives.

Such measures may be taken only “with due respect for the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy” and as a result of “a prior, fair and impartial procedure” guaranteeing “the right to be heard (…) and the right to an effective and timely judicial review”, says the compromise text on the electronic communications framework directive.

In future, internet users may refer to these provisions in court proceedings against a decision of a Member State to cut off their internet access.

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