European lawmakers have finally reached agreement on EU-wide telecomms laws.
The legislation had been held up by debates over how to balance people's rights to information against the need to prevent illegal Internet behaviour, specifically whether ISPs in countries such as the UK and France had the right to summarily cut Internet users off from their services.
Not everyone is going to be happy with the compromise, however. Anyone hoping that the new laws will force countries such as France and the UK to scrap their rules against copyright abuse will be disappointed, said Malcolm Harbour, a member of the European Parliament.
Wording designed to force member-states to consult a judge before cutting someone off from the Internet has been scrapped. Instead the new law states that any limits on a citizen's rights to information from the Internet must be applied in full compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.
France is in the process of adopting a law that would allow people to be cut off from the Internet if they repeatedly breached copyright laws. The code is designed to combat illegal file sharing of music and movies over the Net.
"The telecoms package was never going to be able to force member-states to change their civil and criminal laws," Harbour said. "Some people wanted the telecoms package to do this, but they were unrealistic," he added.
Harbour has reached an agreement with the national governments on how these issues should be tackled under the new laws. The agreement has also been endorsed by all the biggest political parties in the European Parliament, meaning that when it goes to the full Parliamentary plenary meeting next week it is almost certain to be adopted.