In a press release published on 15 November 2013, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), criticised the Commission proposal for a Regulation laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications. The announced goal of this Regulation is to ease the requirements for communications providers, standardize wholesale products, aiming at harmonising the rights of end-users. In general, Hustinx approves the idea to include net neutrality, but points out that the Regulation provides the permission for abuses by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who would be legally allowed to manage and monitor the internet traffic of their users. Hustinx stated serious concerns especially with regard to Deep Package Inspections (DPI):
"Any monitoring and restriction of the internet activity of users should be done solely to achieve a targeted, specific and legitimate aim. The large-scale monitoring and restriction of users' internet communications in this proposal is contrary to European legislation as well as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Such interference with the right to personal data protection, confidentiality of communication and privacy will do little to restore consumer confidence in the electronic communication market in Europe.”
The current proposal would offer broad interpretations for the service providers to control the online activities of their customers by monitoring their data flows ranging from visits of websites to the receiving of e-mails and would even legitimate the slowing down of bit rates or the restriction of access to allegedly illegal services and content.
Not only is this the clear opposite of net neutrality, it would further be a breach of both the Human Rights Declaration and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights:
“The right to privacy or private life is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 12), the European Convention of Human Rights (Article 8) and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 7). The Charter also contains an explicit right to the protection of personal data (Article 8).”
In the next months, the upcoming discussions and negotiations in the Parliament will be an opportunity to add necessary corrections to this proposal and to bring it in line with international law standards and fundamental individual rights.
Opinion of the EDPS (14.11.2013)
EDPS Press Release (15.11.2013)
Draft Regulation - the European single market for electronic
“Building a connected continent”, Neelie Kroes (11.09.2013)
Will the EU Parliament Enable Discrimination Online or Uncompromising
Net Neutrality? (19.11.2013)
(Contribution by Karim Khattab - EDRi intern)