A critical European young voice on Net Neutrality: the distance between Brussels and Washington

Seán Lynch is a member of "My Europe" network and participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Dublin in October 2014.

Seán Lynch is a member of “My Europe” network and participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Dublin in October 2014.

To anyone with an interest in modern technology or international relations, the issue of Net Neutrality shouldn’t be completely unheard of; to the general public though, it might sound unusual. In essence, Net Neutrality refers to our ability to freely browse and communicate over the Internet without interference from Internet service providers (ISPs), governments, law enforcement bodies or businesses and corporations.

“preferential activities are now illegal”

To preface the situation here in the EU, it’s interesting to know that in May 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US proposed a bill that would have let ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon create specialized “traffic lanes” for faster access to sites and services (e.g. YouTube, Spotify etc.) on a paid basis, ultimately discriminating against smaller/lesser content providers. Earlier this year, after a strong online backlash, the FCC ruled to reclassify the Internet as a public utility, meaning that preferential activities are now illegal. This is just a simple outline of what has been happening in the US and most European spectators seemed to just shrug it all off as something that would never affect them – until now. Back in March 2014, the European Parliament passed a set of reformative rules protecting Net Neutrality in all 28 member states, preventing ISPs and mobile carriers from blocking and/or slowing down any services.

“some countries called for the prioritisation of ‘special services’ “

However, in a recent turn of events, some countries have called for the prioritisation of what they call “special services”, although they have yet to be specified. European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger has stated that he recognizes the need for such services but details are lacking. Mr. Oettinger gave a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the beginning of March, addressing the move towards 5G mobile network standards, which will usurp current 4G speeds. As progressive and appealing as that sounds, executives from Deutsch Telecom and Vodafone also made an appearance at the event, speaking publicly in favour of rules that would enable them to give priority to “essential services” that require “high quality Internet” such as healthcare etc. The Latvian presidency of the European Council has already expressed a desire for a two-tier speed system, but again, has not defined exactly what this means and how it would impact the average consumer.

“The danger is where exactly regulators will draw the line.”

The danger here is where exactly regulators will draw the line. Given the current circumstances, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that companies like Vodafone would abuse such regulations, using the most recent proposals as an opening into a situation where they would be able to dictate what sites and services are and are not available, or the speeds at which some can be accessed over others. This would be completely unfair and counter to what the Internet stands for as a whole – that is, the users have the power.

Fortunately, such proposals have not gone unchallenged. Over 100 MEPs signed a letter to the Telecoms Council (dated March 4th 2015), requesting “clear definitions” in regards prioritised services, aiming to “ensure consumers are protected…on the open Internet”. The letter also referred to the 3 year delay in the abolition of data roaming charges by the Council as lacking in “ambition”.

Without a doubt, the most compelling aspect of the Net Neutrality debacle in America was the enormous response from the majority of people opposed to paid-prioritisation. This ranged from protests and public demonstrations to over 1 million comments on the FCC’s website, all arguing against the proposals. The state of Net Neutrality in Europe seems stable at the moment, but if the tide turns – and I personally think it will – the people must make their voices heard for the greater good of the Internet.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Join the Hive!

Featured Stings

Trump systematically upsets global order and trade: Where does this end?

Europe moulds global defense and security chart given US new inward vision

JADE Spring Meeting 2017– day 1: Excellence awards, panel discussion, keynote speeches

Trade deals’ pure realism: it may take 10 years for a post-Brexit agreement

Israel @ MWC14: Israel The Start App Nation

Germany rules the banking industry of Eurozone

Social Committee teaches Van Rompuy a lesson

Five cities short-listed to become the European Youth Capital 2017

A Sting Exclusive: “Doing ourselves a favour”, Vice President Dombrovskis underscores that this time growth has to come from within the EU

IMF: Sorry Greece it was a mistake of 11% of your GDP

Europe provides financial support to African countries while Turkey denies to change terrorism laws jeopardising the EU deal

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ingenu steps up efforts to build LPWA networks across the globe

EU Summit’s major takeaway: a handkerchief cannot save Greece from austerity

Jade Spring Meeting 2017 – day 2: Coporate workshops, general assembly and magna moment

Young people are Europe’s biggest value and hope

Industrial price dive may lead to point of no return

The European Parliament x-rays the troika’s doings

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

Preparing for developing countries the ‘Greek cure’

The 28 EU leaders don’t touch the thorny issues

Dreaming of China

Can the US deal a blow to EU and Russia together over Ukraine?

The EU Commission predicts a decimated growth in the next years

EU: Divided they stand on immigration and Trump hurricanes

Internet of Things: a Force for Good or Evil?

A Sting Exclusive: “Leading by example! EU must push for UN deal to avoid dangerous climate change”, European Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek cries out from Brussels

G20 LIVE: G20 Leaders’ Communiqué Antalya Summit, 15-16 November 2015

EU Youth Conference in Riga concludes with recommendations for ministers

Why the ECB suddenly decided to flood banks with money?

Did Draghi ask the Germans to accept a drastic change of austerity policies?

IMF’s Lagarde to Peoples of the world: You have to work more for the banks!

South Eurozone countries threatened by rising borrowing cost and expensive euro

More taxpayers’ money for the banks

Eurozone: Uncertain future with unemployment ravaging the South

London to say hello or goodbye to Brussels this week

Facts and prejudices about work

18th EU Eco-Innovation Forum in Barcelona shows the way for Europe’s new Environmental policy

Towards a seamless internal EU market for industrial goods

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

Theresa May in search of a magic plan to invoke Article 50 and start Brexit negotiations now

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “European unity and cooperation is being called on question”, Vice President Joe Biden criticizes from Davos

Brussels enraged with Swiss referendum result to keep out EU citizens

“Access denied”: the Greek health system under pressure

Can the world take the risk of a new financial armageddon so that IMF doesn’t lose face towards Tsipras?

Refugee crisis update: Commission still in panic while Turkey is to be added in the equation

What lessons to draw from the destruction of Syria

Teamgum @ TheNextWeb 2014

Draghi cuts the Gordian knot of the Banking Union

A day that Berlin and Brussels would remember for a long time

MasterCard @ MWC14: Innovation in times of regulatory uncertainty

Infinite Oath

In China things are moving in the right direction

Ukraine turns again to the EU for more money

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: List of Recent Climate Funding Announcements

Dealing with stress among healthcare professionals: are we missing the elephant in the room?

Elections in Europe: No risks for the EU, leaders readying to face Trump-Brexit

Investing in working conditions and quality jobs

EU-China relations under investigation?

A Sting Exclusive: “There can be no global deal on emissions without China and the USA”, Conservative MEP Ian Duncan stresses from Brussels

Sustainable Development Goals: making the world a better place

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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )

w

Connecting to %s