Until last year, the European Union did not have a policy on net neutrality. The reason why net neutrality is now on the EU policy agenda, is a direct result of events that occurred during the Telecoms Package process. Pressure from citizens groups forced the issue in the European Parliament. The rapporteur, Catherine Trautmann played a tight hand with the other EU institutions, which resulted in an instruction to the Commission.
The outcome was a public seminar on net neutrality at the end of last year, and consultation process, which invited responses from citizen stakeholders as well as industry. So far, so good. However, the process has been criticised as a cosmetic exercise, and the Commission's response as a weak sop to the dominant telecoms industry lobbyists.
Anyone involved in the industry today will know of the powerful technical capabilities now in the hands of those telecoms companies. Deep packet inspection and traffic management systems make blocking, prioritisation, discrimination of different types of traffic not only possible, but happening. The neutrality on which the Internet is based - and which is indeed essential for the proper functioning of a communications network - is under threat, and our policy-makers are spineless in the face of large commercial interests.
When one writes about this subject of net neutrality, it is impossible to ignore these factors. Indeed, I believe that policy writing which fails to tackle them, would lack credibiility. This section will therefore discuss the threats to the Internet posed by these counter-neutral technologies, and their policy implications. And it will take a critical look at the politicking of the people in power in the EU.