Following the astonishing decision last week by the US Federal Communications Commission on protecting the open Internet - no blocking, no fast lanes, no throttling - the European Parliament today begins the political defence of net neutrality on this side of the Atlantic. At around midday today, the Parliament will take a
vote that will underscore its position that the open and neutral Internet is an essential precondition for free speech and a level playing field for businesses.
The vote is symbolic only, because it is a Parliamentary resolution that falls outside of any legislative process. The Resolution concerns the renewal of the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum. Under normal circumstances it would attract little interest outside of specialist circles.
The heightened political interest in this Resolution is because the Parliament’s previous text on net neutrality is being discussed by the Council of Ministers. The Council is proposing an alternative text to the Telecoms Regulation (Connected Continent) that would rip the Parliament’s work to pieces, and render it worthless by permitting, among other things, zero-rating of content in data plans, and non-neutral traffic management practices ( see Working towards a disconnected Continent - net neutrality gets the EU Council treatment) .
Incorporating statements on net neutrality into this Resolution is a very Parliamentary way of re-iterating its stance for a positive net neutrality law.
What’s especially interesting, is that the whole Parliament is behind it. Every party group has agreed to a text that expresses a united position.
The Conservative EPP and the Socialists have joined with the Liberals and the Greens, whose policy lead on this issue is the German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda. If these groups did not already make unlikely bed-fellows, then to see the UKIP-dominated EFDD joining in makes an even rarer event. UKIP have a track record of not paying attention to Internet-related issues, except on ACTA when they were apparently persuaded that to vote ‘yes’ meant ‘no’. (See my book A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms Chapter 6)
This Parliamentary togetherness on an Internet policy matter is unusual, and is indicative of the European Parliament’s strength of view on this issue.
Here are the key clauses in the Resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the Internet Governance Forum:
(10) underlines the need to secure an open and independent internet as a global, common resource, together with nondiscriminatory access to knowledge in the future, based on the initiatives and needs of the stakeholders, as well as freedom of expression
(11) Stresses that it is crucial to continue efforts to ensure legal protection of net neutrality, which is an indispensable precondition for safeguarding freedom of information and expression, boosting growth and jobs by developing innovation and business opportunities
(13) Stresses the economic and social importance of an open and neutral internet and a level playing field for businesses on the web
There’s even a UKIP amendment:
Emphasises the need to guarantee net and technology neutrality,
Update: 12 February 2015. This Resolution was adopted.
For my previous coverage of the net neutrality in the EU, and the Telecoms Regulation (Connected Continent) see all of my postings under the 'Net Neutrality' menu heading. They include EU telecoms rules - smokescreen lifts over telco specialised services and Permission to stream – how new EU telecoms rules violate net neutrality ).
To understand the political context to the Telecoms regulation (Connected Continent) , see my book The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the ‘Telecoms Package’ which discusses the 2009 Telecoms Package and the processing of it by the European Parliament.
If you are more interested in how the lobbying operates in the European Parliament, then you may also like my other book A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms
This is an original article from Iptegrity.com and reflects research that I have carried out. If you refer to it or to its content, please cite my name as the author, and provide a link back to iptegrity.com. Media and Academics – please cite as Monica Horten, 2015, EU Parliament steels its resolve on net neutrality, in Iptegrity.com, 11 February 2015. Commercial users - please contact me.
Tags: net neutrality, EU Telecoms Regulation, EU, FaceBook zero, Council of Ministers, European Commission, zero-rated, data plan, European Parliament, Connected Continent, Telecoms Package, telecoms reform package.