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.
It’s now becoming clear that the core issue for the Telecoms Regulation is the fight over the open Internet. In the most recent meeting of the European Parliament’s Industry committee, Europe’s telcos finally put their cards on the cable. Their hand includes a neat little torpedo that blows apart any claims by the European Commission that net neutrality will be protected.
As the lead committee on the Telecoms Regulation, ITRE, will be sitting down to discuss it this afternoon, this posting postulates on the appropriate balance of providers and citizens, inspired by a couple of recent Canadian studies.
How far will Commissioner Kroes’ new telecoms proposals rig the market in favour of large providers? That is a key policy issue at stake in the Telecoms Regulation (also known as Connected Continent proposals). With the Regulation now in the European Parliament, MEPs have a chance to debate and amend it. A related question, therefore, is how will they tackle the demands of the big providers and what kind of balance will they provide against citizens rights.
As the European Parliament begins work on the new Telecoms Regulation, there are early warning signals that the issue of net neutrality will be heavily fought over. It has emerged that the two big committees with responsibility for telecoms both wanted to take it on. There was a tussle between the two, and in the end, it was subject to higher level decision that gave net neutrality to the Industry committee. Moreover, it looks as though net neutrality will be one key element that
Not quite murder on the dance floor, but murder in the committees, according to one observer.
It looks like the European Parliament could take a knife to parts of the proposed Telecoms Regulation (Connected Continent) if not its entirety. Iptegrity has followed the discussion in two committees this week – IMCO and ITRE - and it was abundantly clear that the Parliament does not like this proposal. Not quite murder perhaps, but elements of the proposal could be killed off.
The European Commission rushed a stakeholder consultation on the new EU Telecoms Regulation (Telecoms Package) and failed even by its own standards to conduct a thorough impact assessment. These damning comments come, not from an activist group, but from the European Parliament in a formal analysis that will be discussed in Committee meetings this week. The document, seen by Iptegrity, also states that the Commission failed to make changes to the document, despite being asked three times to so before issuing it.
In the controversy over the new Telecoms Regulation, the European Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, insists that she has protected net neutrality, but an analysis of the text of her proposed law suggests that she is being somewhat disingenuous. The text does indeed contain words to the effect that ISPs should not discriminate, but it falls a long way short of the kind of non-discrimination rule that would ensure they won’t.
Instead, the overall impact of the proposed law would mitigate in favour of those ISPs who want to charge for content delivery. In a nutshell, no roadblocks are
Should new legislation be released to the media before it goes to the European Parliament?
The new Telecoms Regulation is due to be presented to the European Parliament tomorrow. Butthe entire draft with all of its accompanying documents was sent to the media today. Even as I write this, it is circulating on the Internet. Not a leak. The official final draft. In my opinion, this is a breach of protocol. Surely, the Parliament should be told first, especially when the measures in the Regulation are so controversial?
***Newflash - despite Vivane Reding's stinging rebuke, the Commission has tonight approved the new telecoms rules . And most recent leak indicates the proposal remains negative for users. ***
Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, did not mince her words when she launched a stinging attack on her old DG over proposals for the economically-powerful telecoms industry. Mrs Reding – who knows what she is talking about as she led the 2009 Telecoms Package – said that the right to freedom of expression is put at risk by the draft Telecoms Regulation. Mrs Reding’s comments come as a sharp rebuke to her long- term colleague and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes.
If you care about the Internet, you should care about this. The leaked draft of the new Telecoms Regulation is the Telecoms Package ‘MkII’. But unlike its predecessor, it contains legal twists that create some mega- horrors. Whoever wins this argument in the Commission will determine who runs the networks and how for the next decade.
EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, has taken a lashing from rival DG Competition over her proposed shake-up of the telecoms market . The attack on Mrs Kroes draft policy suggess an internal fight over the aims and scope of the Regulation, which was leaked last month by European Digital Rights. But an investigation of Commission documents suggests that she has not yet firmed up her plans and is exposed to rival demands from other Commissioners . The possibility of splits in the Commission over the Regulation came to light in
It’s a reprise of the Telecoms Package from 2009. It drips and gushes controversial measures that will drive stakes through the entire telecoms infrastructure – not just net neutrality. And it seems the Commission is suffering a severe dose of memory loss.
According to a leaked draft of new legislation, the European Comission is planning to make sweeping changes to the Telecoms Framework that will, inter alia, impact on the Internet. This is the draft Regulation ‘laying down measures to complete the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent”. It was leaked at the beginning of the month by the European Digital Rights group (EDRi) and, despite the innocuous sounding title, it pushes open a Pandora’s box of controversies. It’s a real horror.