The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

Net neutrality has to be guaranteed, says EU Commissioner Viviane Reding. It's a 180 degree turn from her graduated-response-supporting position a year ago. And it gives her a new challenge to deal with the AT&T  amendments to the Telecoms Package  which attack net neutrality.


"I believe that we are at the start of a new phase of internet driven innovation and growth...We will only reap the full  benefits if we  safeguard the openness of the Intenet...take advantage of the  win-win of open neutrality has to be guaranteed ..." 


Not the words of a technology entrepreneur, as you might expect,  but Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding, speaking last week at a conference on the future of the Internet . She called for investment in the Internet infrastructure and commitment to openness, in order  to

build the economic recovery for Europe. An open infrastructure, she said, is the best way to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and grow the economy. And she  implied that  an Internet economy should work across Europe's borders, at the same time as  the concept of territorial distribution is becoming blurred.


Mrs Reding's words will be welcome news to the Internet community, who have been battling against the onslaught from graduated response and industrial interests from the content and branded goods industries who only want to lock it up, and to preserve the territorial nature of European trade via anachronistic distribution structures.


It will be less welcome to her old friends in the content industries, who cling to the territorial nature of copyright.


The re-positioning of Mrs Reding is interesting. It's a 180 degree turn from her graduated-response-supporting position a year ago. A very subtle  message in her speech suggested that she has  put graduated response and the whole content online issue on the back-burner. 


There is just one fly in the ointment. She refers to measures taken by the Commission in the Telecoms Package to prevent unfair abuse of network filtering  tools. Although she didn't name it, she means Article 22(3) of the Universal Services directive (Harbour report).  I think she means that the Commission's amended version will provide some protection against anti-competitive practices.


In light of her new  role as champion of the open Internet, would she therefore  oppose the AT&T-lobby's  compromise  amendments to Article 22(3)  and set in place a regulatory framework for network management and filtering tools which protects the citizen's interests?



More extracts from Viviane Reding's speech:


"we will only be able to reap the full social and economic benefits of a fast

moving technological landscape if we manage to safeguard the openness of the

Internet. Openness is one of the key ingredients that made the Internet so

successful as an innovation place, and we have to make sure that it is not



"Another important issue relates to open standards. We need to take advantage of

the win-win of open interfaces and standards such that the market can grow for all.

Dominant players may try to use proprietary standards to lock consumers into their

products or to extract very high royalties, ultimately stifling innovation and

foreclosing market entry by new players."


"High speed fixed and mobile broadband networks are the arteries of the emerging

web-based economy. All the capabilities I have spoken about today depend on

having access to a seamless network infrastructure. Investments are huge. These

investments need to be optimised and maximise their return capability. Today our

network provision stops at borders, which is preventing a true single market for

telecommunications to emerge."


"we in Europe need to make full use of the economic potential of

the single market that is still locked up in our fragmented national markets. This

should apply primarily to services based on the internet, which has by nature a

cross-border dimension."

Read Viviane Reding's  full speech on net neutrality .








The Copyright Enforcement Enigma tells the story of the 2009 Telecoms Package and how the copyright industries tried to hijack it.

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The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the ‘Telecoms Package’

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