Protests against the Net Neutrality violation in Germany

By EDRi · May 22, 2013

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Proteste gegen die Verletzung der Netzneutralität in Deutschland |]

Internet activists in Germany demanded a free and open Internet on 16
May 2013, protesting in front of the annual general assembly of major
German ISP Deutsche Telekom (DT). They criticized the company’s plans to
slow down internet connections after a certain amount of traffic had
been used. The worst part is that the company is violating the principle
of net neutrality – internet services can buy their way out of those limits.

In April 2013, the former state-owned monopoly telecommunications
company Deutsche Telekom AG announced plans to enforce traffic limits on
their DSL customers. After transferring a certain amount of data,
something like 75 gigabytes a month, DSL-connections would be slowed
down to 384 Kbit/s instead of the original 16 Mbit/s. Imagine a car
usually driving 50 km/h, but after driving for 1 000 km it is slowed
down to 384 meters per hour – it’s functionality is broken.

Making matters even worse, DT also openly announced that internet
companies could pay to be excluded from those customer limits. Which is
already being done with the music streaming service Spotify: their
traffic will not be counted for the customer limit – and Spotify will
remain available at full speed even when its competitors are slowed
down. The market leader is trying to kill the principle of net
neutrality – that all bits are created equal.

Needless to say, this has created quite a stir in German media and among
net activists. Together with many others, EDRi member Digitale
Gesellschaft worked on stopping DT’s plans and advocating for net
neutrality. Active for two years already, the campaign site explains the concept of net neutrality and provides simple
explanations on why it is essential to have a free and open internet.

When the plans were announced, activists shifted into full-fledged
campaign mode, for example with calculating that with the new
rules, DSL-connections would only work for a few hours a month with
their advertised speed – and fall back to the digital stone-age for the
rest of the month.

The highlights however were the protests on 16 May 2013, at the annual
general assembly of DT in the German town of Cologne. An assembly of
activists protested in front of the shareholder meeting with a massive
13.5 × 4.5m banner right above DT’s welcome banner – a cooperation of
Digitale Gesellschaft and Chaos Computer Club. The event was continued
with a protest march through the city and a simultaneous online
demonstration “occupying” DT website.

Activists have lately struggled to explain the abstract concept of net
neutrality to the public. With unexpected support from the major
ex-state ISP, the concept is now known to more people than ever. The
free and open internet is in danger and DT must not succeed with their
plans. Other countries like the Netherlands, Chile, Slovenia, Argentina,
Colombia, Brazil and Mexico have understood this – and passed laws
enforcing a neutral net. Although the EU Commission has acknowledged its
importance, it had failed to adequately regulate it. If the EU doesn’t
do it, it is time for individual Member States to enshrine net
neutrality into law.

Protect the free and open internet – enforce net neutrality!
Drosselkom: Offline and Online-Protests against ISP Plans to slow down Internet Connections – and for Net Neutrality (16.05.2013)

Drosselkom: Offline and Online-Protests against ISP Plans to slow down Internet Connections – and for Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality campaign website(only in German)


See how throttling the DT connection would affect your bandwidth (only
in German)

(Contribution by Andre Meister – EDRi observer AK Zensur, Germany)