Europe reverses course on net neutrality legislation (Wired UK)


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Less than a year after the European Parliament voted to enshrine
net neutrality in law, the principle has come under attack by the
European Commission.

A package of reforms put together by former Digital Agenda
Commissioner Neelie
Kroes
 was voted through parliament in March 2014. It included strong safeguards for net neutrality, banning service providers
from blocking or slowing internet services provided by
competitors.

But a majority of the 28 EU member states in the European
council have now voted in favour of changing the rules to bar
discrimination in internet access but allow the prioritisation of
some “specialised” services that required high quality internet
access to function.

The exact types of services were not defined, but it’s possible
they might include connected cars. The EU specified that if service
providers did prioritise such services, they would have to ensure a
good standard of web access for consumers.

The proposals did not go unopposed. More than 100 MEPs signed a letter to the Telecoms council that accused it of
“lacking ambition”. “Weakened proposals on net neutrality go
against the European Parliament’s repeated calls for clear
definitions,” it read. “We call on you to have clearly defined net
neutrality rules for Europe.”

Marietje Schaake, the net neutrality spokesperson from the
fourth largest group of MEPs, the Alliance of Liberals and
Democrats in Europe, was even more scathing of the decision. “Current proposals are
ambivalent, and can lead to commercial practices that go against
consumer interests, against innovative startups, and against fair
competition in the digital economy,” she said. “The European
Parliament has repeatedly called for strong net neutrality; the
Council should show ambition in doing the same.”

The proposals, which also include a postponement of the abolition of roaming charges across member
states
, have been sent from the European Commission to the
European Parliament for consideration this week.

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6 March 2015 | 11:07 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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