The European Parliament has again voted in favor of the freedom of Internet users, stating that telco subscribers' access cannot be restricted without a legal court ruling.

The vote in Strasbourg appears to challenge measures such as France's proposed three-strikes law - currently being scrutinized by French politicians - which would allow a state agency to oblige ISPs to cut off copyright infringers after two warnings.

During a May 6 vote on the telecoms package, the European Parliament reinstated the first-reading amendment saying that "no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities... save when public security is threatened." There were 407 votes in favour with 57 votes against and 171 abstentions.

The text had previously been revised at the European Council level. Because the vote amends an informal agreement in the Council, the whole telecoms package is now set to go through the EU's conciliation process in an effort to secure an agreement.

The Internet freedom amendment is just one aspect of a major program designed to improve competition in the EU's telecoms sector. The Parliament and Council did agree on the citizens' right directive to improve consumer rights and the establishment of a new European body of telecom regulators called BEREC.

"The strong statement for the access to the Internet as a fundamental right demonstrates that the Parliament can be courageous and reject the pressure to compromise when essential values are at stake," said Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, analyst for Internet freedom campaigners La Quadrature, in a statement.

However, French government ministers have previously insisted that the EU directive would not interfere with its three-strikes legislation.

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