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Over 80 European organisations demand protection for Net neutrality

17 April, 2013
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Press release

Today, more than 80 organisations, represented by The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and European Digital Rights (EDRi), sent a letter (pdf) to the European Commission demanding the end of dangerous experimentation with the functioning of the Internet in Europe and the protection of the principles of openness and neutrality.

"The Internet's unique value is openness. The experimentation by certain European access providers with blocking, filtering and throttling of services creates borders in an online world whose key value is the absence of borders." explains Joe McNamee, Executive Director of EDRi. "This reckless experimentation will continue unless the European Commission puts a stop to it."

When Commissioner Neelie Kroes first took office in 2010, she expressed her commitment to the protection of net neutrality. Since then however, the Commission has not done much apart from using consultations to evade its obligations. Since 2010, the Commission has kept stakeholders busy with no fewer than six consultations (two directly from the Commission and four from BEREC).

BEUC and EDRi fear that the upcoming non-binding Recommendations on net neutrality will be based on meaningless safeguards such as the possibility to switch operators and an obligation for each operator to have at least one full internet offer. This approach would mean that the European Commission will be facilitating the creation of new barriers in the digital "single market" at the same time as it is trying to remove existing ones. A European start-up whose access to its potential market is being restricted will gain no comfort from the blocking being "transparent" or the fact that consumers would be able to use their service if they changed providers.

"It is time the EU to build on the example of the Netherlands and Slovenia and introduce legal protection against arbitrary interferences with communication." added Joe McNamee. "If we fail to legislate, the result will be a poorer internet – to the detriment of citizens, innovators and, ultimately, the very companies that are short-sightedly undermining the essence of the open Internet."

Net neutrality timeline

A timeline created by EDRi visualises the most important developments on net neutrality in Europe. It is especially remarkable that no effective action has been undertaken to protect this fundamental pillar for free speech and innovation in the EU since Neelie Kroes took office as EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda.

Timeline

BEUC and EDRi joint Call for Action: http://edri.org/files/2013-BEUC-EDRi-NN.pdf

Selected statements:

  • Neelie Kroes on 14 January 2010, p.8: "(...) On a personal note I put even a heart by this item on my paper! It is of high importance for both of us, the Commission as well, to preserve the open and neutral character of the net." Source
  • Neelie Kroes in November 2010: “Any content or application that is legal and which does not cause undue congestion or otherwise harm other users or network integrity should be fully accessible. In the spirit of net neutrality all such content and applications should receive equal treatment.” Source
  • Neelie Kroes in Arpil 2011: "I am a firm believer in the power of competition to promote consumer interests." Source
  • Neelie Kroes in 2012: "consumers also need to know if they are getting Champagne or lesser sparkling wine. (…) I do not propose to force each and every operator to provide full Internet." Source

 

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With financial support from the EU's Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme.
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