Startups for Net Neutrality

By EDRi · June 3, 2015

The future of our open Internet is at risk. Current EU developments creating the risk of allowing large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to make the internet less open and less free.

“Startups for Net Neutrality” believes that the beauty of the Internet is that everybody with a laptop and an Internet connection can change the world. All great ideas get an equal chance at success because everyone can communicate with everyone on a broadly equal basis. This is guaranteed by the principle of net neutrality, because it ensures that all data are treated equally. Failing to protect this principle will hurt the Internet ecosystem and hinder the success of current and future startups. This will hinder innovation and the creation of new businesses and new jobs.

We thought net neutrality was saved in 2014 by the European Parliament, only to see now that this decision is under attack behind closed doors in the Council. The time to act is now. This is why we urgently ask the members of the European Parliament to defend their position, repeated in no fewer than five votes, that Europe needs legal protection for the open and free internet.

We welcome every member of the international startup community to join us in our fight for openness and competition. It is in all our interests to join this campaign, because if weak legislation is adopted, the new EU law will allow ISPs to create borders in the open Internet. Ziggo one of the largest telecoms providers in the Netherlands, already launched a product which offers content providers a premium network in addition to the ”normal internet” – something that would be explicitly permitted by the last EU Council Presidency proposal. Last year Deutsche Telekom, which accounts for 60 percent of Germans broadband connections, proposed to impose download limits for its customers, while exempting traffic generated by its own video on-demand service. No startup can break into a market that is abused in this way.

These examples show that ISPs no longer want to treat all digital information as equal. If we allow this, the level playing field for competing Internet companies and new services will be destroyed. Big companies like Facebook and Google, can afford to pay for access to the ”fast lane” or “premium internet”, and investment in this part of the infrastructure will rise. Startups and other small companies will have to do with the “slow lane” Internet, which will be kept slow in order to push online companies to pay for “premium” access to the telecoms companies’ customers.

This is bad news for end users that want to explore new services. It will harm innovation in general and startups in particular. That is why the European Parliament must turn down the proposal by the Council and vote for a truly open and free internet, in line with its vote in April 2014.

Startups for Net Neutrality

(Contribution by Wienke Giezeman, Startups for Net Neutrality, Netherlands)