Informal discussion in European Parliament on net neutrality

By EDRi · October 20, 2010

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Deutsch: [Informelle Diskussion zur Netzneutralität im Europäischen Parlament |]

For possibly the first time since the adoption of the “telecoms package”, an
informal discussion on the issue of “net neutrality” took place at a
breakfast meeting hosted by Catherine Trautmann MEP. This happened ahead of
upcoming the net neutrality “summit” planned to take place in the European

None of the positions defended by the industry or consumer representatives
were particularly surprising, with Telefonica arguing that the “nightmare”
of increased demands of their services had to be responded to by increased
“management”. In the same way as roads are not built to cope with maximum
possible demands, it would be wasteful to build networks to have enough
capacity to cope with maximum demand. Skype argued that the virtuous circle
created by the open Internet, whereby openness fosters innovation which
attracts more users, which increases the incentives to innovate, must be
protected. Skype and the European Consumers Bureau (BEUC) argued that
research shows clearly that transparency is insufficient to protect
consumers from non-neutral access providers because of the difficulties
involved in changing broadband providers.

The Commission said that there were over 300 responses to the recently
closed net neutrality consultation and that the priority was to ensure a
level playing field and to avoid fragmentation. The issue of deep packet
inspection, which BEUC said should be banned, was avoided by the Commission,
which argued that other technologies “must be possible”.

During the debate, both Ivailo Kalfin (S+D, Bulgaria) and Edit Herczog (S+D,
Hungary) briefly raised the thorny issue of content regulation, presumably
because increased interference with citizens’ communications for business
purposes will make it harder for access providers to avoid caving in to
demands to restrict or monitor access to data on the basis of government
requests or media pressure. Telefonica (whose subsidiary O2 accidentally
blocked the entirely innocent Imgur website because the “technology behind
the service is more far reaching than anticipated and on occasion a site
which should not be blocked may be”) said that it was not interested in
censoring online material.

EDRi response to Commission consultation on net neutrality (30.09.2010)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)