EDRi @ European Business Summit 2014: Digital Citizenship in Brussels – the case of Net Neutrality

Participation of Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC, at the seminar "Women on top", organised in Amsterdam (EC Audiovisual Library)

Participation of Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC, at the seminar “Women on top”, organised in Amsterdam (EC Audiovisual Library)

Written by Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights (EDRi)

Net neutrality is a digital rights issue, par excellence. The internet has created huge opportunities for the exercise of freedom of communication, for freedom of assembly and for democracy. These opportunities have the same roots as the huge economic success of the internet: openness. The internet allows anyone to connect to anyone without discrimination. Ideas – political, social or business – become global phenomena at a speed that would be unthinkable without this openness.

This openness has been preserved in a telecommunications market that exists because of regulation. Starting from the old national telecoms monopolies 25 years ago, the EU prised the markets open with a series of major liberalisation packages, supplemented with targeted interventions (such as on roaming and local loop unbundling) whenever it became clear (or, to be more precise, about two years after it became clear) that the natural anti-competitive tendency of network industries started kicking in.

In this context, it is somewhat funny, although you do have to admire their cheek, to listen to representatives of former monopolies furrow their collective brows and talk in hushed tones about the “dangers of over-regulation” and the “risks to investment” in infrastructure if net neutrality is protected by law. These protestations are even more amusing when we consider that the telecoms industry lobbied against pretty much every pro-competitive measure, ostensibly due to fears about network investment – fears that subsequently proved unfounded. This is an industry that is as successful as it is because political leaders largely ignored this nonsense and pushed competition into a market that gravitates towards anti-competitive behaviour.

As an alternative to this “over-regulation” that they claim to fear, the former monopolies propose a complete re-invention of how traffic flows over the internet. They have suggested a “sending party pays” model – where they can charge any online service for “sending” traffic to their customers – even though, it is quite obvious that their customers actively choose (and pay to choose) to download content rather than it being passively sent to them. In other words, they suggest creating a new monopoly, where access to their customers becomes the product. Instead of an open internet, we would have a closed, unpredictable “internet”. Individuals would pay to connect to the internet and “the internet” would pay to connect to them!

The telecoms operators explain that competition would act as a safeguard, because customers can change from one operator to another if they are not getting access to the right services. And, if you have never tried to change from one access provider to another, you might be inclined to believe this. However, what about if you are trying to get investment for an innovative new EU-wide online service in this new market? You have to explain to the bank that, at any given moment, you could lose access to half of the market to any given country, unless you pay the dominant telecoms operator whatever ransom they decide to charge to permit access to its customer base. The damage to innovation would be disastrous.

Ultimately, less innovation will lead to less compelling online content and services, leading to less demand for high-quality services, to the detriment of the entire online economy, and to the detriment of the telecoms companies. However, the destruction of net neutrality would come at an even greater cost – namely free speech. The internet has flourished because the EU, following the example of the USA, has established provisions to make sure that, within strict limits, internet companies cannot be held iable for illegal content to which they unknowingly provide access to. In EU jargon, they cannot be held liable if they are acting as a “mere conduit” to the content in question.

If the telecoms providers are deciding what their customers can gain access to – particularly if using surveillance methods such as “deep packet inspection” – they will no longer be able to claim that they are “mere conduits”. This will inevitably lead to policy-makers demanding that they should be more liable for what is accessed by their customers. It will also lead to more court injunctions that will seek to use the expanded technical capacities of telecoms companies to identify and block traffic on their networks. Already this year, we have seen the European Court of Justice rule that crude, non-specific injunctions can be imposed on telecoms companies to “take reasonable measures” (“reasonable” will change in meaning as technical capacities develop) to prevent access to specific content or websites.

So, instead of “over-regulation”, the telecoms companies campaign in favour of a restructuring of the internet. They campaign for a restructuring that would destroy the vibrant nature of online service provision, to the detriment of citizens and business, including the telecoms companies. They campaign for a restructuring in the knowledge that this will come at the cost of a significant increase in legal liability, leading to an increase in surveillance, blocking and filtering. Still, that’s better than over- regulation, apparently.

EDRi believes that the openness of the internet is what has generated the amazing tools that citizens now have at their fingertips to communicate, to campaign and to organise. We believe that the environment that generated this innovation must be maintained. We believe that the legal protections of the businesses that facilitate the exercise of our online freedoms must be preserved.

European Digital Rights (EDRi) is an association of 36 digital rights organisations from 21 countries. We campaign to defend citizens’ rights in the online environment.

Joe McNamee is Executive Director of European Digital Rights, where he has worked since 2009. He holds Master’s Degrees in European Politics (Wales) and International Law (Kent). His first job in the internet sector was as a senior technical support adviser for an internet access provider in 1995. Prior to joining EDRi, he worked in a telecoms consultancy where he ran three independent research projects for the European Commission – on local loop unbundling, telecoms/internet convergence and information society markets in eight former Soviet states. 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Mario Monti’s (on ther left)  center party didn't manage to break the Italian political stalemate. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Italian electoral results to change Eurozone climate and weight on the Cyprus issue

Kristalina Georgieva Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Budget and Human Resources on the left and Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-Presidents of the EC, walking to take his position in the rostrum delivered a joint press conference on the conclusions of the weekly meeting of the Juncker Commission, which had focused on the EU Budget for 2016. (EC Audiovisual Services, 27/05/2015, Brussels – European Commission/Berlaymont).

The battle for the 2016 EU Budget to shake the Union; Commission and Parliament vs. Germany

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, went to Washington where she participated in an International Leaders Forum on "The Transatlantic Bond in an Age of Complexity" at Brookings Institution. The event, moderated by Karen Donfried, President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), was jointly organised by the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) of Brookings Institution and the GMF. The Vice-President then met with Madeleine Albright, Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. Who says that the old ghosts don’t haunt today’s skies. The day after Federica Mogherini (on the left) met with Michael Froman, US Trade Representative. The specter of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) must have been present. Again the old phantoms are present in today’s business. (EC Audiovisual Services, 21/01/2015).

‘Internal security’ or how to compromise citizens’ rights and also make huge profits

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch Minister for Finance and President of the Eurogroup (on the left) received in The Hague, Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro. (EC Audiovisual library, 11/06/2013 ).

Eurogroup asked to reduce public debts of its member states

LEAGUE OF YOUNG VOTERS LAUNCHES TOOL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO COMPARE POLITICAL PARTIES AHEAD OF EU ELECTIONS

_alexandru_dragos

Breaking barriers between youth in the new tech era: is there an easy way through?

Arif Shala is a a doctoral student at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany and executive director at the Institute for Economic Development Studies in Prishtine, Kosovo.

A European young student shares his thoughts on Quality Education

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, paid tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, together with Charles Michel, Belgian Prime Minister (kneeling). (Date: 22/03/2016. Location: Brussels – Beursplein, © European Union, 2016 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Etienne Ansotte).

Is there a chance for the West to win the war on terror?

Johannes Hahn, Member of the EC in charge of Regional Policy (first from right), embarked on a visit to Poland. During his stay, he visited a Polish company, specializing in the production of industrial electronic solutions in the sectors of gas, heating industry and water.

Trade surplus up production down in Eurozone

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, participated in the "Jobs for Europe" conference with Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, (from left to right). (EC Audiovisual Services).

Inegalitarian taxation on labour haunts Europe’s social model

Handshake between Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. Barroso, together with other centre-right politicians went to Cyprus for the European People's Party (EPP) Summit on 11/1/2013, to help Anastasiades get elected. (EC Audiovisual Services)

No tears for Cyprus in Brussels and Moscow

Alexis is willing to listen now but Angela's body language says it is too late! From left to right, Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and Mr Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece. The photo was taken during the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit that took place on 21 and 22 May 2015 in Riga. At this occasion, EU leaders met representatives of the EaP partner countries to reconfirm the importance the EU attaches to its Eastern Partnership (EaP) (Council TV Newsroom, 22/05/2015)

Spanish vote – bad luck for Greece: Does Iphigenia need to be sacrificed for favourable winds to blow in Eurozone?

From left to right, H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi of the Chinese Mission to EU, Mr Markku Markkula, President of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Luigi Gambardella, President of ChinaEU (© European Sting)

Europe’s richest regions actively seek investment from China’s biggest banks

Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE) and M. THEN from "No patents on Seeds" hand over a letter to Martin Schulz, European Parliament President (EP Audiovisual Services).

The Parliament rejects cultivating the wrong seeds of the Commission

Sharon Bowles, (ALDE, UK), President of the EU Parliament Committee of Economic and Monetary Affairs (on the left) during Economic Dialogue and exchange of views with Minister for Finance of Ireland Michael Noonan. (European Parliament photographic library).

IMF: European banks do not perform their duty to real economy

From left to right, Wolfgang Schüssel; Fabrizio Saccomanni; Sylvie Goulard; Leonhard Birnbaum; Christian Helmenstein  (United Europe, 13/10/2014)

Can privatisation be the panacea for the lack of growth in Europe?

After the European Parliament plenary vote on the principles of winding down failing banks, the parliamentary Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs will vote on the mechanism and fund. (EP Audiovisual Services 17-12-2013).

2014 will bring more European Union for the big guys and less for the weak

Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade, gave a press conference on Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) announcing the end of the legal review of this agreement. The further of the procedure is the translation of this text in French and in the other 21 languages of the UE. © European Union , 2016   /  Source: EC - Audiovisual Service   /   Photo: Eric Vidal

Federalist EU ‘naively’ believes Washington shares her TTIP high fever

Hannes Swoboda's exclusive interview by Carlo Motta at the Sting’s pavilion during EBS 2014

“Austerity was not the alternative!”, President Hannes Swoboda of the European Socialists and Democrats on another Sting Exclusive

Members of the European Parliament make a visit to the stock exchange in Shanghai, China. ( ©European Union EP/PE ).

What have the banks done to the markets making them unable to bear cheap oil?

Antonio Tajani, Sebastián Salvadó, President of the RACC, and Carles Grasas, CEO of Applus+ IDIADA, posing in front of Volar-e (from left to right)
(EC Audiovisual Services)

Commissioner sings “Volar-e” but the European driver no “Cantar-e”

JADE_logo

JADE @ European Business Summit 2014: Youth Unemployment – a drive to Entrepreneurship

michel barnier 2014

European Banking Union: no one is perfect

Press conference: Political agreement on the new European banking regulation CRD4 (Basel III) has been reached between the two EU legislators, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. (European Parliament Audiovisual Library).

At last some rules on banks

Print

Aidex: the Global Humanitarian and Development Aid Event

Press conference by Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the European Commission, on the launch of the consultation on the new state aid rules, (EC Audiovisual Services).

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

ANTALYA, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 15: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak holds a press conference within the G20 Turkey Leaders Summit on November 15, 2015 in Antalya, Turkey. Cem Genco / Anadolu Agency

The ASEAN Community sees the light: the genesis of a new powerful economic and political bloc and EU’s big opportunity

Anna Carolina Zimmermann is the Brazilian Ambassador of the Brazilian Confederation of Junior Entreprises (JADE)

Junior Enterprises as a solution for Youth Entrepreneurship

President Schulz seems to have a hard time to understand Syriza's vague vision for Greece during last EU Summit in April. From left to right, Mr Martin SCHULZ, President of the European Parliament, Mr Alexis TSIPRAS, Greek Prime Minister. (Council TVnewsroom, 23/04/2015)

Alexis Tsipras against internal and external “enemies” in pursue of a two-phase deal now

Press conference by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Member of the EC, on the first proposals of the EC's comprehensive approach to improving the management of migration (EC Auidovisual Services, 27/05/2015).

EU to relocate 40,000 migrants across the bloc: first step of a long due substantial reform?

The Sting’s Values

Mario Draghi, Governor of the European Central Bank and Chairman of the Financial Stability Board.

Italy can stand the US rating agencies’ meaningless degrading

General view of EU/Russia Summit, 03-04/06/2013 (EC Audiovisual Services).

Is it true that the G20 wants to arrest tax evasion of multinationals?

Petro Poroshenko

Macro-Financial Assistance: Europe’s way to control Ukraine?

United Nations Climate Conference COP21 Paris

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: There is a new draft agreement on the negotiating table

Marianne Thyssen, Member of the EC in charge of Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility gave a press conference on the revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive. © European Union , 2016   /  Source: EC - Audiovisual Service   /   Photo: Georges Boulougouris

Tackling youth unemployment through the eyes of a European entrepreneur

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (in the centre), Dalia Grybauskaité, President of Lithuania and President in office of the Council of the EU and Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, participated in the inaugural meeting of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU with the EC in Vilnius.

The EU accuses Russia of bullying Ukraine to change sides

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Member of the EC in charge of Research, Innovation and Science, travelled to Germany, where she visited Heliatek, a company specialised in the manufacture of solar panels. The visit of the Commissioner probably reveals that this firm receives EU subsidies. (EC Audiovisual Services).

China confirms anti-state-subsidy investigation on EU wine imports

A machine din

European Parliament, BUDG - Budgets Committee Meeting: 2014 budget Presentation. Alain Lamassoure, Chair BUDG, second from left, Janusz Lewandowski, Commissioner in charge of Financial Programming and Budget, third from left. (European Parliament Audiovisual Services, 26/06/2013).

The cuts on 2014 Budget will divide deeply the EU

Volkswagen logo_

Volkswagen scandal update: “We want clarity fast, but it is equally important to have the complete picture”, Commission’s spokesperson underscores from Brussels

European Parliament. Joint meeting of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and the Special Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect (TAXE). Exchange of views between the TAXE Committee President Alain Lamassoure (on the left) with Commission President Jean- Claude Juncker and Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici (on the right). (European Parliament Audiovisual Services. Event Date: 17/09/2015. Copyright: © European Union 2015).

The EU Parliament blasts the Council about the tax dealings of the wealthy

Louis Galea, Member of the European Court of Auditors, second from left, gave a press conference following the publication of the ECA special report 12/2012 entitled “Did the Commission and Eurostat improve the process for producing reliable and credible European statistics?” The audit of the Court focused on the process of producing European statistics. It did not assess the reliability of specific statistical outputs. The other participants of the conference were: Jacques Sciberras, first from left, Head of cabinet of Louis Galea, Peter Schöneberger, Team Leader at the European Court of Auditors, seconf from right and Bertrand Albugues, Head of Unit at the European Court of Auditors, first from right. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Eurozone very close to a sustainable growth path

Informal meeting between the EU and the Ministers for Trade of the G7 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, (EC Audiovisual Services).

The G7 fails to agree on growth but protects the big banks

European Parliament. Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs ( ECON). Meeting on mortgage credits. (European Parliament Audiovisual Services).

EU legislation protecting home buyers approved in Parliament

european-youth-forum-logo

European Youth cries out: Sustainable Development Goals ambitious, but lack focus on youth

Aiesec_Logo_

A young person’s perspective on the Paris and Beirut attacks and aftermath

European_Youth____Forum

EU Youth Report casts stark light on life for young Europeans

EU Parliament BUDG DEVE committee meeting: “How can the EU deliver better aid? Unlocking innovation and optimizing European resources: innovative methods and strategic alliances to leverage European added value. (EU Parliament photographic library).

Resisting EU budget cuts

Press conference by Olli Rehn, Member of the European Commission, on the spring economic forecasts for 2012-2013. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Eurozone hasn’t escaped the deflation danger

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s