Council of Europe to step up for Net Neutrality

By EDRi · June 5, 2013

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Europarat tritt für Netzneutralität ein |]

As a follow-up to the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on
network neutrality, and in the implementation of the Internet Governance
Strategy 2012-2015, the Council of Europe has organised on 29-30 May
2013 a multi-stakeholder dialogue on Network Neutrality and Human Rights.

Based on a background paper, which included a Model framework on Network
Neutrality, the debate started with 2 keynote interventions: one from
Chris Marsden, Professor at University of Sussex that presented an
overview of the history of European Network Neutrality and Human Rights
and the second from Joe McNamee from EDRi that emphasized why a
regulatory approach was needed today on this topic. He also explained
why the Internet users did’t want Internet to be like the failed French
Minitel system, which worked well, was very secure but lacked innovation.

The next two panels focused on the issues of Net Neutrality and Freedom
of Expression and privacy, while the next day was shared between
national experiences, with the presentations of the models in
Netherlands, Slovenia and Norway, and the opinions of the private sector.

The EU Data Protection Supervisor representative Achim Klabunde reminded
the participants that looking at the packets’ content (such as via Deep
Packet Inspection DPI) infringes the right to privacy and “explicit
consent” is needed to have its traffic being monitored by ISP.

The Skype representative Jean-Jacques Sahel explained that in order to
block this VoIP service, you needed to use DPI, as the application may
use different ports.

Frode Sørensen from the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications authority pointed out the major issues of the co-regulatory approach to net
neutrality they had adopted since 2006. He explained that transparency
is not sufficient and that, even in their case, “regulatory measures
will be considered if the voluntary agreement shows insufficient.”

The private sector panel was hosting divergent opinions from the
Deutsche Telekom representative who claimed that their data caps have
been misunderstood and that they “do not have DPI in our fixed network”
while the Skype representative was very direct in his conclusion:
“There is a systemic failure in European mobile Internet access market.”

The outcome paper of the major points of discussion will be communicated
to the 47 member state representatives of the CoE Steering Committee on
Media and Information Society (CDMSI) to consider and propose further

Conference announcement and agenda

(Pre-) history of European Network Neutrality and Human Rights

Slovenian Net Neutrality Law

Net Neutrality in Norway – a co-regulatory approach (31.05.2013)

Council of Europe – Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on network
neutrality (29.09.2010)