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

Join the Hive!

Featured Stings

European Business Summit 2014: The role of youth entrepreneurship education in EU’s Strategy for Competitiveness

What options the new President of Ukraine has?

From Grexit to Brexit: UK industry now says the in/out referendum is good for your health

Global Citizen – Volunteer Internships

Draghi rehabs ECB into a tool to support growth and employment; a departure from Teutonic orthodoxy

The US bugged Europe: Is this news?

MasterCard at European Business Summit 2015: A focus on innovation will drive inclusive economic growth for Europe

Commission deepens criticism on German economic policies

Why lay people don’t expect anything good from G20

GREXIT final wrap-up: nobody believed Aesop’s boy who cried wolf so many times

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

EntEx Organises 5 Summer Schools for Young Entrepreneurs across Europe in June/July 2014

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Pharmaceuticals conceal drug side effects with the EU’s Court blessing

No better year for the EU’s weak chain links

Eurozone needs more than some decimals of growth

Trump to run America to the tune of his business affairs

G20 LIVE: “International communities and leaders have great expectations for 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou China”, Mr Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s special envoy stresses live from G20 in Antalya Turkey

Ukraine undecided over a strategic partnership with the EU

China-EU Special Report: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang endorses China’s big investment on Juncker’s plan at 10th China-EU Business Summit

EU to negotiate an FTA with Japan

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

TTIP’s 11th round starts in Miami but EU-US businesses see no sunny side

The ECB again takes care of the bankers not the people

Commission’s feeble response to financial benchmarks fraud

Fair completion rules and the law of gravity don’t apply to banks

Towards the Rise of the United States of the Atlantic?

High-technology manufacturing saves the EU industry

Syria: Why did the US-Russia brokered ceasefire collapse? What does the duo care for?

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

EU security and defence industry prepares positions for ‘producers’ and ‘customers’

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

Financial Transaction Tax: More money for future bank bailouts?

How much more political is the new EU leadership? Does this include personal bend?

COP21 Breaking News_07 December: “Remove Roadblocks to Climate Action”

Eurozone: Inflation plunge to 0.4% in July may trigger cataclysmic developments

“C’est la vie”? French recession and unemployment to linger in Eurozone

China Unlimited Special Report: The trip to China

May a parody constitute a copyright infringement? European Court of Justice to give the answer

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “It is the implementation, Stupid!”, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble points the finger to Greece from Davos

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate Change needs to be demystified”, Anneli Jättenmäki Vice President of European Parliament underscores from Brussels

MWC 2016 LIVE: Getty chief says one in four new images from phones

The EU pretends not knowing what happens in the Western Balkans

Austerity lovers and ‘relaxationists’ fight over the EU budget

Although Greece is struggling to pay salaries and pensions Varoufakis is “optimistic”; the Sting reports live from EBS 2015

Why the merchant ships can pollute the atmosphere with CO2 quite freely

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

An EU Summit without purpose

EU seeks foreign support on 5G from Mobile World Congress 2015 as the “digital gold rush” begins

On Human Rights Day European Youth Forum calls for end to discrimination of young people

Greece may offer to China a European gateway

Court of Auditors: EU spending infested with errors well above the materiality threshold of 2%

Migration has set EU’s political clock ticking; the stagnating economy cannot help it and Turkey doesn’t cooperate

Brussels wins game and match in Ukraine no matter the electoral results

Summer JADE Meeting 2015: We came curious, we left inspired

The Parliament sets the way for the European Banking Union

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

A Sting Exclusive: why the environment is important to your health, by UNEP’s Head for Europe

German stock market is not affected by the Greek debt revolution while Athens is running out of time

“If they think they can slave an entire nation, then they will just have the opposite results!”, Alexis Tsipras cries out from the Greek parliament

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