EDRi responds to umteenth public Net Neutrality consultation
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Deutsch: EU-Konsultation: EDRi nimmt zum x-ten Mal zur Netzneutralität Stellun...
This might sound like a running gag, but on 15 October 2012 EDRi submitted its umteenth response to the European Commission's umteenth consultation on net neutrality, traffic management, transparency and switching. As explained in the previous EDRi-gram, this is now the sixth consultation since Commissioner Neelie Kroes took office as the European Commissioner for the digital agenda.
This new consultation elegantly ignores the European Parliament's resolution from last year in which it asked the Commission to present, within six months of the publication of BEREC's findings (29 May 2012), its views on "whether further regulatory measures are needed in order to ensure freedom of expression, freedom of access to information, freedom of choice for consumers, and media pluralism, to achieve effective competition and innovation." Since then, Commissioner Kroes not only received evidence from BEREC that network operators are indeed implementing blocking, degrading and the throttling of services, applications and content everywhere in Europe, she also managed to ignore the evidence gathered by the respectmynet.eu platform and displayed on netneutralitymap.org.
It was therefore no surprise that answering the Commission's questionnaire was quite a challenge: Some of the questions made us worry that the Commission had somehow forgotten how the internet works, while some others clearly suggested that the Commission has since long given up on its initial commitment to net neutrality. For instance, the questionnaire started with a brief introduction to traffic management in which the Commission stated that “traffic management” is “a wide range of technical practices” and concluded that they can all be treated as if they were just one phenomenon, which is “a” legitimate tool. In our view however, if the Commission believes that anti-competitive traffic management is, from a policy perspective identical to undertaking an urgent security measure then its competence to be running the consultation needs to be called into question. In addition, it was rather shocking to learn that the Commission is apparently not familiar with the European Data Protection Supervisor's opinion on net neutrality, traffic management and the protection of privacy in which he clearly warns that deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques have serious implications in terms of privacy and data protection. Lack of awareness of the EDPS opinion is the only explanation we can imagine for question number 10 of the consultation: "Are there any privacy risks arising from the use of DPI for traffic management purposes?" We cannot find any charitable explanation for the question "Are there alternative techniques for traffic management that do not involve deep packet inspection?".
As we already explained in our response to a previous consultation on net neutrality and transparency, it is false and dangerous to assume that transparency and switching are major tools to achieve the regulatory objective of maintaining an open and competitive Internet. We have demonstrated that transparency policies do not provide all the necessary guarantees for a neutral and competitive Internet - which implies the necessity to support immediate regulation and to promote net neutrality as an objective for regulatory authorities.
In view of the evidence the Commission's reaction of obfuscation, delay and distraction is simply incomprehensible.
EDRi's response to the net neutrality questionnaire (15.10.2012)
European Parliament resolution on Net neutrality (17.11.2011)
European Data Protection Supervisor's opinion on net neutrality, traffic
management and the protection of privacy (7.11.2011)
(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler - EDRi)