EDRi has waited for years for concrete proposals to enshrine the net neutrality principle in the European Union law. Since 2010, there has also been an increasing number of calls from the European Parliament to guarantee net neutrality. Finally, in September 2013, the European Commission has proposed a draft Regulation which aims at protecting the open internet in Europe. Vice President Neelie Kroes repeatedly stated that this proposal would include the "right to net neutrality".
Unfortunately, the draft Regulation proposed by Commissioner Kroes poses a serious threat to the internet as we know it.
The Internet has changed our society, enhanced our freedoms and our economy. One of the main reasons for this is the openness of the Internet – anyone has the potential to communicate with anyone, without permission and without discrimination. This is the essence of the neutral, open Internet. This is net neutrality.
This openness is now under threat, as telecoms operators seek to restrict Internet access and thereby boost their short-term profits – replacing neutrality with restrictions, barriers and complexity.
We have waited for years for concrete proposals to enshrine the net neutrality principle in European Union law. Since 2010, there has also been an increasing number of calls from the European Parliament to guarantee net neutrality. Finally, in September 2013, the European Commission has proposed a draft Regulation which aims at protecting the open internet in Europe. Vice President Neelie Kroes repeatedly stated that this proposal would include the "right to net neutrality".
Unfortunately, the draft Regulation (pdf) proposed by Commissioner Kroes poses a serious threat to the internet as we know it. We have analysed the three most important loopholes, which we have listed below.
The good news is that it only takes a few modifications to turn the Commission's proposal into a meaningful means of protecting net neutrality, thereby ensuring that the Internet remains a barrier-free single market and a unique platform for social and cultural activity and democratic discourse.
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.
The first instance court - District Court in Bratislava I, issued on 24 October 2013 a preliminary injunction prohibiting continuance of net neutrality breach by one of the Internet access providers. The injunction was granted in a ongoing unfair competition law case between two ISPs, Slovak Antik and Dutch UPC.
The case already started in March 2013, when UPC blocked Internet Protocol television (IPTV) service provided by Antik via infrastructure of UPC by blocking its public IP address. This meant that customers who used Internet access from UPC, were technically precluded from using IPTV service of Antik (set-top boxes wouldn't work for them).
For the past years, EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who started by advocating for net neutrality, has constantly given in to the pressure of large telecom companies, changing her direction from protecting net neutrality to threatening it. The current draft Regulation made public on 11 September 2013 just confirms this direction.
La Quadrature du Net and several advocacy groups have accused Kroes of killing net neutrality through the Commission's draft proposal on the reform of the EU telecom market, under the disguise of defending it.
Tomorrow, the European Commission will finally release its long-awaited draft proposal for a Regulation to complete the European single market for electronic communications. After promising the European Parliament strong measures in favour of net neutrality during her nomination hearing in 2010, she is now seeking to ensure its destruction.
Fundamental rights are at risk from the draft Regulation on the "completion of the European single market for electronic communications" that may be finally approved by the European Commission this lunchtime. This is made clear from a leaked internal document (pdf) of the European Commission.
There is huge opposition in the European Commission to the assault on net neutrality, with opposition both from within Kroes' own services and from across the Commission. In the past days, the draft Regulation was the subject of extensive and heated debates in internal meetings.
Unsurprisingly, two services of the European Commission are leading the attacks on the current draft:
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Deutsch: ENDitorial: Geplante Telekom-Regulierung mit oder ohne Netzneutralitä...
Last week, an internal draft of a regulation for a “telecoms single market” was leaked in Brussels. We published an initial reaction to this document.