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

the European Sting Milestones

Join the Hive!

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

EP leaders call for negotiations on upgraded Transparency Register to continue

Three scenarios for the future of geopolitics

UN honours peacekeepers who ‘paid the ultimate price’, for the sake of others

UN anti-corruption body in Guatemala rebuts government’s reasons for expulsion order

The European Sting @ the European Business Summit 2014 – Where European Business and Politics shape the future

New UN bullying report calls for ‘safe, inclusive’ schools for all children

Only the Americans are unhappy with the ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine

“A divided Europe is not in China’s interests”, Ambassador Zhang of the Chinese Mission to EU welcomes Brussels

Global aid needed for healthcare

Rich economies not a promise of education equality, new report finds

Development aid drops in 2018, especially to neediest countries

How Hawaii plans to be the first US state to run entirely on clean energy

Have central banks missed the exit train?

Intel @ European Business Summit 2014: Better decisions now, the new business dashboard 

EU budget 2021-2027: Commission calls on leaders to set out a roadmap towards an autumn agreement

Assassinations in Ethiopia amidst regional ‘coup’ attempt, condemned by UN chief

Facilitating the access to finance and risk capital for SMEs and midcaps

EU Commission – US hasten talks to avoid NGO reactions on free trade agreement

Worldwide terror attacks have fallen for the third year in a row

Utmost hypocrisy emitted by EU’s energy regulation

‘Complacency is still strong’ over stopping genocide, says top UN adviser

6 ways to future-proof universities

EU Parliament and Council: Close to agreement on the bank resolution mechanism

Summertime Consultation: 84% want Europe to stop changing the clock

Press conference by EC Vice-Presidents Valdis Dombrovskis (left) and Jyrki Katainen, on the Commission's proposals in the framework of the financial union (Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: EU, 2018 / Photo by Georges Boulougouris)

EU Finance ministers agree on new banking capital rules and move closer to Banking Union

Here are three ways blockchain can change refugees’ lives

This is why Dutch teenagers are among the happiest in the world

De-escalation of fighting in Hodeida is key to ‘long-overdue’ restart of Yemen peace talks: UN envoy

The EU wants to create 10 million smart lampposts

This Japanese company pays its employees to get a good night’s sleep

Scientists are growing meat on blades of grass

5 ways to fast-track the transition to a carbon neutral world

The fatal consequences of troika’s blind austerity policy

Halt death sentences on children, UN rights expert urge Saudi authorities

Lack of investment and ambition means Youth Guarantee not reaching potential

EU-U.S. Trade Talks: European Commission presents draft negotiating mandates

COP21 Breaking News_12 December: 195 countries adopt the First Universal Climate Agreement

Can ECB’s €60 billion a month save Eurozone?

How the diaspora is helping Venezuela’s migration crisis

EU and China seize momentum to enhance trade agreements in response to Trump’s administration

A refugee from Syria cries out: “I’m not just a number!”

Juncker Investment Plan for Europe welcomed by European Youth Forum

Tropical Cyclone Idai affects 1.5 million across Mozambique and Malawi, as UN ramps up response

Microsoft says the internet is getting a little nicer

Lithuania should find its own way in the EU

Brexit uncertainty keeps shaking the world’s financial markets

Will the EU ever tackle the migration crisis despite the lack of political will?

Supercomputing could solve the world’s problems, and create many more

The Sting’s Values

‘Step backwards’ for Bosnia’s autonomous Serb region as assembly reneges on Srebrenica genocide report

The US and EU decisively oppose Erdogan’s plans for Turkey and beyond

“We need to accelerate our negotiation on the China-EU Investment Treaty”, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang highlights from the 21st EU-China summit in Brussels

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

‘We are nowhere closer’ to Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, than a year ago, Security Council hears

Currency Union might not let an independent Scotland join the EU as the “Yes” front now leads

MEPs take stock of the EU’s foreign, security and defence policy priorities

Some Prevailing Arguments and Perceptions over the South China Sea Issue Are Simply Wrong

‘Climate change is the battle of my life’, UN chief tells students living on the frontline in Fiji

Syrians ‘exposed to brutality every day’ as thousands continue fleeing ISIL’s last stand

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 )

Connecting to %s