By EDRi

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Neue EU Konsultation zur Netzneutralität verzögert rechtliche Schritte | https://www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_10.15_Neue_EU_Konsultation_zur_Netzneutralitaet_verzoegert_rechtliche_Schritte?pk_campaign=twun&pk_kwd=20120801]

Following BEREC’s report in May 2012 on Net Neutrality, the European
Commission launched on 23 July 2012 another consultation, open by 15
October 2012, to investigate on whether ISPs are manipulating online
traffic management, thus postponing new regulatory laws on Net
Neutrality. But this consultation follows a similar one from BEREC that
ended just yesterday, 31 July 2012.

As BEREC’ report was revealing, 20-50% of the European ISPs use measures
to block or restrict access to web sites and/or products run by their
competitors. Although the EU communications rules say that users should
be able to choose the applications and services they want without
restrictions, the report has shown that a large number of European users
are under contracts with their ISPs that limit their access to services
such as Voip (Voice over Internet Protocol) or file-sharing sites. Other
practices such as bandwidth throttling (deliberate slowing down of the
services to certain websites) have been revealed.

Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes stated that the consultation
would be used “to help prepare recommendations that will generate more
real choices and end the net neutrality waiting game in Europe. There
is a lack of effective consumer choice when it comes to Internet
offers,” she said. Yet, although Kroes mentioned the introduction of new
EU guidelines in 2012 considering “regulatory intervention in
competitive markets as inappropriate”, the new consultation opened by
the Commission pushes back any possible decision.

La Quadrature du Net has published a non-answer to the new consultation
considering there is no time for another consultation on the subject.
“The only way to protect a free Internet as well as freedoms and
innovation online is to clearly enact and protect Net Neutrality in EU law.”

It is already clear that European ISPs are applying restrictions to
their users’ access and that national regulators cannot investigate and
sanction.

In UK, for instance, several ISPs such as BT, BSkyB, O2 and TalkTalk
have already signed an Open Internet Code of Practice that generally
requires them to ensure that they are offering their customers “full and
open internet access”. The code allows them to restrict open use of the
internet through “traffic management” of their services provided they do
not use it “in a manner that targets and degrades the content or
application(s) of specific providers” and they ensure that a best effort
Internet access is a “viable choice” to consumers even where other
“managed services” are available. They signatories must also use “clear
and transparent traffic management policies”.

Yet, the code has not been signed by large ISPs such as Virgin Media,
Vodafone or T-Mobile and Orange operator Everything Everywhere who
consider the text of the code may lead to “misinterpretation and
potential exploitation” or have reservations regarding the restrictions
on the use of the “internet access” term.

On-line public consultation on “specific aspects of transparency, traffic management and switching in an Open Internet”
Deadline for reply: 15 October 2012
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/actions/oit-consultation/index_en.htm

Public consultation on ‘net neutrality’ to delay EU rules on ISPs
(24.07.2012)
http://euobserver.com/871/117055

Non-answer to BEREC’s Consultation: We need Net Neutrality Law!
(25.07.2012)
https://www.laquadrature.net/en/non-answer-to-berecs-consultation-we-need-net-neutrality-law

Net Neutrality: Brussels opens an umpteenth public consultation (only in
French, 23.07.2012)
http://www.numerama.com/magazine/23245-neutralite-du-net-bruxelles-ouvre-une-enieme-consultation-publique.html

Ten UK ISPs commit to new ‘open internet’ code (25.07.2012)
http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2012/july/ten-uk-isps-commit-to-new-open-internet-code/

EDRi-gram 10.11: BEREC’s findings on net neutrality (6.06.2012)
http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number10.11/berec-net-neutrality