Big tech accountability? Read the backstory to today's policy debates here on Iptegrity.

The European Parliament has made a resounding call for net neutrality to be protected, in two separate votes this week. The votes do not create any new laws, but they do send a strong message to the European Commission which is working on draft laws for copyright and traffic management.

The Schaake report on Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy called on the Commission to codify the principle of net neutrality. It also expressed the view that ISPs should not block or discriminate against any type of traffic.

In addressing copyright, the Schaake report called for a balanced review of the IPR Enforcement directive, that would preserve the open Internet and protect fundamental rights online.

The Schaake report is authored by the Dutch Liberal MEP Marietje Schaake, who has a long-standing interest in Internet issues and who opposed ACTA.

More interesting politically is the second vote. This was on a report by the IMCO committee, chaired by the British Conservative MEP Malcolm Harbour, on completing the Digital Single Market. This report also contains a strong call for the European Commission to support net neutrality.

The IMCO report states that lack of net neutrality hurts businesses and consumers and it too calls on the Commission to propose legislation to ensure net neutrality. In particular, it points out that such measures are needed with regard to traffic management, going as far as to say:

'if necessary, ensure by means of regulatory intervention that network neutrality is maintained'.

The IMCO report also addressed the issue of fair competition online, calling on the Commission to take action 'against unfair B2B commercial practices, such as online restrictions, price controls and quotas'.

On copyright, it emphasises that 'cooperation with private parties should be firmly grounded in a legal framework characterised by respect for data privacy, consumer protection, right of redress and access to justice for all parties' and that 'notice action' measures must 'ensure respect for the fundamental right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal established by law, unequivocally and for all'.

This is a reminder to the European Commission of Article 1.3a in the Telecoms Package that calls for a 'prior, fair and impartial hearing' . ( For the full story of Article 1.3a, copyright and the Telecoms Package, see my book, The Copyright Enforcement Enigma )

The IMCO report also calls for reduced VAT on e-books - a call that will make some book authors happy.

Both reports got a massive majority, with over 600 MEPs voting in favour (result as stated by La Quadrature du Net in their press release).

This is an original article from If you refer to it or to its content, you should cite my name as the author, and provide a link back to Media and Academics - please cite as Monica Horten, European Parliament calls for positive laws on net neutrality in, 12 December 2012 . Commercial users - please contact me.


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About Iptegrity is the website of Dr Monica Horten.

I am a tech policy specialist, published author, post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Currently working on UK Online Safety Bill.

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