Broad new telecommunications rules for the European Union have finally been fully approved, carrying various customer benefits. When a customer chooses to change service providers, the company will be required to transfer the same mobile phone number to the company that has landed the customer, within one working day. And the automatic downloading of personalised information to a user’s computer when he visits a Web site will need the customer’s consent.
Viviane Reding, the EU’s information society Commissioner talked about further assurances as well: “When data are lost — personal data — the person should be informed immediately. Internet access could not be cut off without first going through a judge, and so on. So, we see that consumers’ rights are central to this new legislation.” A European Parliament vote confirmed the reforms will enter force next month and have to be transposed into all EU countries’ national laws by mid-2011. Catherine Trautmann, the euro-MP who guided the text through parliament, said: “For the first time in the world, the European Union has linked economic regulation with fundamental rights: the market, yes; competition, yes; rights are a necessity.” Although Internet access is established as a right, illegal activities, such as downloading copyrighted material, can lead to loss of access through the courts. Telecom companies which now dominate the market will have to separate their networks from their services businesses if there is not enough competition.