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A major reform of broadband provider regulations has been thrown out by the European Parliament following a disagreement regarding the rights of web users.

The changes were intended to strengthen the protection of consumer rights by adding greater transparency to operator contracts.

However members overwhelmingly voted against an amendment which would have allowed broadband providers to disconnect users for persistently downloading copyrighted material.

The parliament ruled: "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."

Despite the setback, there is still a possibility that the reforms will eventually be passed. The next step will see European Union telecommunications ministers meet in June.

The legislation also suggested that national telecoms regulators should promote the investment and development of "new and enhanced infrastructures" for broadband networks.

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