Final Countdown to Save the Internet
Two years after the initial proposal for a Regulation on Europe’s “Connected Continent”, the European Parliament votes on the proposal for the final time on Tuesday 27 October.
In its first reading, adopted last year, the European Parliament proposed clear rules protecting net neutrality in Europe. However, after intense pressure from the EU Member States (the EU Council), the Parliament backed down. At the end of negotiations in June of this year, Parliament negotiators accepted a watered-down and essentially meaningless “compromise”.
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In the vote, we want Parliamentarians to adopt amendments 2-24 in order to fix four major shortcomings in the compromise(d) text:
- “Zero-rating” is a common abuse of net neutrality – it allows some services (such as Facebook and Google) to be always available for free, while citizens have to pay data costs to access the rest of the internet. Due to the large divergence between Parliament and Commission/Council, it was agreed not to regulate this in the Regulation. Now, the European Commission says that interventions would only be possible if there was a restriction of competition (and, therefore, not freedom of expression). Even then, this should be assessed in a case by case basis. An amendment is needed to fix this.
- Specialised (“fast lane”) services are possible as long as they are “necessary”. However, in the recitals, necessary is redefined to cover situations where such preferential treatment would not be necessary. Either the Parliament can adopt amendments to provide clarity, or it can outsource the real decision-making to the Body of European Regulators (BEREC).
- Congestion may require traffic management interventions by service providers. However, the trialogue agreement also includes traffic management when the congestion isn’t actually happening (“impending” congestion). Either the Parliament can adopt amendments to remove this loophole, or the real decision-making will be outsourced to BEREC.
- Traffic management rules allow different categories of data to be treated differently. This will have a major impact on innovation and security. Taking security as one xample: Video traffic will be put in the “fast lane” as it is time sensitive data. However, encrypted video isn’t identifiable as video and would be put in the slow lane. So, the choice will be between security (encryption) or slow lane (un-encrypted). Already today, this approach means that traffic to/from one European Parliament political group’s website is put in the slow lane.