Digital Rights in Bulgaria

TO: The Conciliation committee delegation of the European Parliament,
Nadezhda Mihaylova, MEP,
Vladko Panayotov, MEP,
All the Bulgarian members of the European parliament

OPEN LETTER
for protection of the digital rights of the Bulgarian and the EU citizens.

At the end of September last year, the European Parliament adopted at first reading and on May 6, 2009, on second reading, some changes in a series of directives, called the Telecom Package, namely:

2002/19/EC ( ‘the Access Directive’);
2002/20/EC ( ‘the Authorization Directive’);
2002/21/EC ( ‘the Framework Directive’);
2002/22/EC ( ‘the Universal Service Directive’);
2002/58/EC ( ‘the E-privacy Directive’).

Part of the proposed changes affected the Internet as a working environment and a way of life. Many of them represented a total violation of human rights and legal traditions in Europe, such as:

Obstructing specific technologies or filtering them entirely, forced collaboration between providers and publishers of Internet content, monitoring of the Internet usage of the citizens by their ISPs (Internet Service Providers), compulsory installation of spyware on the computers of all Internet users in order to monitor the presence of ‘lawful’ content there.
If the user has been found guilty of committing such ‘violations’ of downloading, distributing and storing of illegal content, his/her access to the Internet would be terminated.
The evaluation of what is legal and what is not will shift from the court of law to the local ISP (Internet Service Provider) and will change the legal status of the provider of the Internet which is currently only a ‘mere conduit’.

These were just some of the suggestions for changes, but they clearly show the threats and violations of the rights of users and the business.

During the final voting, the EP rejected these changes and found an acceptable compromise with the clauses in the Directives, between the satisfactory protection of the user and citizen and the rights of the content publishers, accepting a proposal that serves as a defense wall for the rights of citizens and the business on the Internet :

Amendment 138/46, adopted by Parliament on its session on 24th September 2008 and confirmed on a second vote on May 6th, provides that “Applying the principle that no restriction may be imposed
on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a “prior ruling by the judicial authorities,” notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened in which case the ruling may be subsequent.”
In this open letter, we want to give a mandate to the Conciliation Committee, which represents Europe’s citizens, to protect our rights as citizens, as users and as a major business segment of the economy that has attracts vast investments.

We want to hear a clear position that Bulgaria and its citizens are firmly “for” the proposal that Directive 138/46 will remain in its original version.

“The fourth element I would like to underline is the recognition of the right to Internet access. The new rules recognize explicitly that Internet access is a fundamental right such as the freedom of expression and the freedom to access information. The rules therefore provide that any measures taken regarding access to, or use of, services and applications must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, including the right to privacy, freedom of expression and access to information and education as well as due process. “, said Commissioner Viviane Reding.

We demand to support this proposal, which guarantees the human rights and the neutrality of the Internet, which is what happened on the voting in the European Parliament on first reading and on second reading by a large majority.

We insist that the delegation and the European institutions demonstrate clearly that the protection of civil and users rights is a leading principle in the European Union and compromising it is not an option. On the other hand it must be demonstrated that we stand firmly against cyber-crime and will fight it, but not at the price of massive violation of fundamental principles of the EU. The price of our freedom is high and it is time to defend it with a clear and firm position.

We, in Bulgaria, as a country with much experience with tyranny, oppression and totalitarianism , we know that the protection of our human rights is of a paramount importance and their loss will inevitably lead to dire consequences.

We insist that this position in defense of the civil rights be expressed at this meeting on behalf of and in the name of all the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria and the EU.

3rd November 2009
Bogomil Shopov, Electronic Frontier – Bulgaria
Konstantin Pavlov, Electronic Frontier – Bulgaria

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