Document Actions

EU annoys industry and activists with net neutrality proposal

The Register - GSMA, MEP and others queue up to give it a kicking.

Europe’s telco ministers have finally come to an agreement on net neutrality – but it’s one that makes both digital activists and industry unhappy.

On Wednesday, a council made up of EU member states' telecoms ministers published its position on the so-called Telecoms Package and managed to alienate almost everyone with a stake.

The proposed law, if enacted in the form preferred by the council, leaves the door open for a two-tier internet, say activists. Yet, according to the council: “The draft regulation sets out to ensure that companies that provide internet access treat traffic in a non-discriminatory manner.”

It sets out new rules on traffic management that ban blocking or slowing down specific content or applications. There are a number of exceptions – for example in situations where customers have requested spam blocking or to prevent cyber attacks. The draft also allows for “specialised services”.

If approved by the European Parliament, the law would apply from 30 June 2016. Getting parliamentary approval, however, may prove tricky. Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, of the left-leaning Democraten 66 party, said the proposals were “disappointing to the point of insulting”. Schaake’s home country is the only one in the EU to have a national net neutrality law. And it’s being enforced: both KPN and Vodafone were fined in the Netherlands in December.