EDRi responds to umteenth public Net Neutrality consultation

By EDRi · October 24, 2012

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Deutsch: [EU-Konsultation: EDRi nimmt zum x-ten Mal zur Netzneutralität Stellung |]

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 platform and
displayed on

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

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)