By Joe McNamee

Letter to Members of the European Parliament, published by Neelie KROES on Tuesday, 01/04/2014

Open letter Translation
If adopted, the European Commission’s Connected Continent regulation will lead to ending roaming charges by end 2015 on voice, text and data, ensure more coherent rules on spectrum allocation, set out the principles of net neutrality in the open internet (no blocking and no throttling), strengthen consumer protection measures and develop innovative communications/telecoms tools for business users. Translation: You need to vote for this because you can tell your voters that you ended roaming charges. If we redefine “net neutrality” as that narrow rules on blocking and throttling then we will also have net neutrality.
Regarding Net Neutrality, more specifically, I would like to make sure that decisions are taken based on facts. If we all agree on the need to end blocking and throttling, and we agree on the need to manage specialised services carefully, then the debate that we are having is about how we achieve this, not about being for or against the open Internet Translation: Let’s keep away from facts. Let’s ignore the fact that it was me who proposed including specialised services in the Regulation, in the section on open internet, and let’s pretend that the confused, limited definition that has been proposed is adequate.
FULL LETTER
I am writing regarding this week’s vote on the European Commission’s Connected Continent proposal.
Translation: I am writing to lobby you on net neutrality.
If adopted, this will lead to ending roaming charges by end 2015 on voice, text and data, ensure more coherent rules on spectrum allocation, set out the principles of net neutrality in the open internet (no blocking and no throttling), strengthen consumer protection measures and develop innovative communications/telecoms tools for business users. Translation: Seriously, you can claim credit for ending roaming – have I not made this clear enough already? All I need you to do is support, weak, bureaucratic, anti-competitive rules on not neutrality… I mean net neutrality
Regarding Net Neutrality, more specifically, I would like to make sure that decisions are taken based on facts. Translation: I would like to avoid facts if at all possible.
Firstly, the Commission proposes clear and strong protection of full access to the open Internet, a ban on blocking of traffic and ban on discrimination against different services or applications. It is clear that all contributors to the discussion are in favour of this strong assertion of the right to access a free and open internet. Translation: The Commission wants to create confusion by creating a weak definition of “specialised services”, which would allow a two-tier access to services that are already available on the open internet. This will aid our ultimate goal in this exercise – consolidation of the market. In a two-tier market, the services in the slow lane do not have to be blocked or throttled. And, as long as the text is about discriminating “against” services and not “between” services, the “normal lane” and fast lane can continue.
However, some have sought to portray specialised services as a serious threat to the open Internet. This is incorrect. Specialised services would only be allowed if they do not impair the Internet. They must be delivered on distinct and additional network capacity – they can’t eat into existing capacity and existing contractually-agreed speeds that you pay for. National regulators will be in charge of upholding net neutrality and policing specialised services – so it cannot be claimed that they will allow Net Neutrality rules to be bypassed. Translation: I will now misrepresent my opponents – by pretending that those who argue against my weak definition of “specialised services” believe that specialised services themselves are a threat to the open internet. I will ignore the fact that the real danger is the exploitation of the weak definition and make believe that regulators will be able to undo the damage, even though they will have been deprived of the legal tools to do so.
Specialised services already exist and are unregulated. There is a strong case for specialised services – given their importance in driving innovation and investment in the digital economy, and in providing tailored services that consumers and start-ups expressly ask for. So we must carefully regulate, but not hinder or effectively ban, these specialised services. Translation: Specialised service already exist and the only reason that I defined them in this Regulation was to create loopholes and confusion. We must carefully regulate, not to hinder or undermine specialised services, but to undermine net neutrality through the use of complex and unnecessary bureaucracy.
If we all agree on the need to end blocking and throttling, and we agree on the need to manage specialised services carefully, then the debate that we are having is about how we achieve this, not about being for or against the open Internet.
So I look forward to a positive outcome to this vote, and thank you in advance for all your support on this important initiative.
Translation: I truly hope that I have now confused you enough.
Kind regards,
Neelie