By Joe McNamee

[This post is published jointly with Access]

Tomorrow, the European Parliament will decide whether or not it supports a proposal for anti-Net Neutrality legislation (PDF – last publicly available document) advanced by the representatives of the EU member states (“the Council of the EU”).

For the past few months, the Latvian presidency of the Council has proposed a string of virtually identical “compromise” texts on the “Telecoms Single Market Regulation” (TSM), in an effort to reach an agreement with the European Parliament and the Commission. In this process, the European Commission has made it clear that it was ready to accept any deal, for the sake of closing negotiations on this piece of legislation. The Parliament has so far resisted the ever-increasing pressure from the Council to approve proposals that not only make little sense, but which would also deliver the complete opposite of what the Parliament adopted by large majority in April 2014.

In line with nearly 20 years of successful liberalisation in European telecommunications, the Parliament last year voted for:

  • clear rules prohibiting discrimination between online services;
  • a definition of “specialised services” which included clear safeguards to prevent exceptions being abused for anticompetitive reasons; and
  • the exclusion of text which would permit arbitrary blocking and filtering of internet traffic imposed by internet providers.
  • The Council is supporting the most extreme anti-free speech and anti-competition policies currently being proposed by anybody, anywhere in the world. Its “compromise” would permit discrimination, would offer no meaningful safeguards for the internet “fast lanes” that it now proposes, and would permit Internet access providers to block and filter anything, including content that no one has even accused of being illegal.

    As negotiations with the Latvian presidency come to an end, we urge the European Parliament to maintain its strong stance in favour of Net Neutrality. For the past five years, MEPs have demanded Net Neutrality protections five times:

  • 17 November 2011: EU Parliament calls for Net Neutrality
  • 26 October 2012: EU Parliament calls for Net Neutrality
  • 11 December 2012: EU Parliament calls for Net Neutrality
  • 3 April 2014: EU Parliament votes on binding rules for Net Neutrality in the TSM
  • 27 November 2014: EU Parliament calls for Net Neutrality
  • The European Parliament now has a choice either to defend a history of successful liberalisation, defend the position that accepted by large majority just last year, and defend a position that will set an example for the world. Or not.

    Dear Members of the European Parliament:
    You made the promise to deliver Net Neutrality. Do not succumb to pressure. History is on your side. Citizens are on your side.