EDRi Responds to BEREC's Consultation on Net Neutrality and Transparency

By EDRi · November 16, 2011

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Deutsch: [EDRi’s Stellungnahme zur Konsultation über Netzneutralität und Transparenz |]

Net Neutrality is at the centre of the debate in almost every European
institution. The European Commission has been looking at this topic for more
than a year now and is moving more and more away from its initial position
to uphold net neutrality in Europe. In contrast to her own statements in
January 2010, Vice-President Neelie Kroes is now advocating a
wait-and-see-approach stressing the importance of transparency and the
ability to switch operators. In a speech during the EUHackathon on 9
November 2011, Kroes said she heard “allegations that some internet
providers throttle, degrade the quality of services”. Earlier this year she
therefore asked the EU Telecom’s regulator BEREC to go on a fact-finding
mission in order to prove these “allegations”.

Net neutrality was also recently discussed in the European Parliament. The
Industry Committee just adopted a resolution which called on the BEREC to
swiftly publish the evidence emerging from its investigations. The
resolution emphasised that net neutrality is crucial for fundamental
freedoms, innovation and competition. Indeed, there is a growing number of
threats to it, such as blocking of applications and degradation of services.
These experiments with the essence of the Internet have sometimes been
transparently declared by operators themselves and reported by end users and
content providers, while at other times consumers’ services have simply been
restricted, without notification or explanation. Not only do operators have
incentives to seize more control over internet traffic, they are also
increasingly under pressure from vested interests to take measures which run
counter to their role as a mere conduit.

On 2 November 2011, EDRi responded to the consultation on BEREC’s
“transparency and net neutrality” which will be followed by a paper on
Quality of Service and a report on competition and discrimination issues
next year. BEREC’s draft guidelines on transparency however, are in line
with the Commission’s wait-and-see approach and argue that transparency is
an effective tool to achieve the regulatory objective of maintaining an open
and competitive Internet.

In its response, EDRi explains that transparency on service restrictions
will lead neither to sufficient protection nor to empowerment of end users.
In the light of numerous transparent and non-transparent violations of the
principle of net neutrality, EDRi expresses its deep concerns about the
Guidelines’ apparent acceptance of restricted offers that provide limited
access to the Internet. EDRi fears that relying solely on transparency
requirements and on market forces will lead to the development of a
multiple-tier Internet, to the detriment of citizens’ rights and the
competitive online marketplace. Few would be able to access premium managed
services and many would be left in the slow lane with a low quality and
restricted access to the Internet.

EDRi asks the BEREC to design regulatory tools for national regulatory
bodies to ensure that traffic management practices do not unsettle the
Internet ecosystem. The BEREC should promote narrowly-tailored measures to
protect net neutrality and the open Internet’s core characteristic as a
unique platform for innovation and freedom of expression defined by end user

EDRi’s response to the net neutrality consultation (2.11.2011)

BEREC guidelines on transparency and net neutrality (10.2011)

Speech given by Neelie Kroes on 9 November 2011during the EUHackathon

Net Neutrality Resolution as adopted by ITRE (7.11.2011)

EDRi-gram: Neelie Kroes on Net Neutrality (27.01.2010)

(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler – EDRi)