Deutsche Telekom First to Introduce Fast Lanes Under New EU “Net Neutrality” Laws

Mere days after the European Parliament voted in broken net neutrality laws that allow for traffic shaping and internet fast lanes, the first EU telecoms company has announced plans to introduce a two-tier internet, allowing priority access to paying customers. In a statement on the company’s website (in German), CEO Timotheus Höttges said Deutsche Telekom will introduce charges for startups to access specialised internet services.

“There needs to be the option of giving priority to data associated with sensitive services if the network is congested,” says Höttges (translation courtesy of Euroactiv). “Developing innovative internet services with high standards of quality will continue to be possible.”

“Start-ups need special services more than anyone in order to have a chance of keeping up with large internet providers,” Höttges argues. “If they want to bring services to market which require guaranteed good transmission quality, it is precisely these companies that need special services. By our reckoning, they would pay a couple of percent for this in the form of revenue-sharing,”

In response to Deutsche Telekom’s plans, Vodafone Germany told German newspaper Der Spiegel, “Vodafone is not currently pursuing such plans [for internet fast lanes], but in our view, Deutsche Telekom’s position is correct,” adding that, “an equal internet does not even exist today.”

Image courtesy of Acoustic Branding.

European Parliament Votes to Protect Edward Snowden

After the mess the European Union made of its net neutrality laws, it’s heartening to see them doing something positive. Earlier today (29th October), the European Parliament voted in favour of protecting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from prosecution and extradition to the US, as well as dropping any charges against him within EU member states. The resolution was voted in by 285 votes to 281, and grants protection to Snowden as a “human rights defender”.

Rumours of the vote hit Twitter shortly before the official announcement, with Snowden himself commenting:

After the European Parliament released the news via its website, Snowden appeared shocked and delighted:

The European Parliament declared:

“Too little has been done to safeguard citizens’ fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They urge the EU Commission to ensure that all data transfers to the US are subject to an “effective level of protection” and ask EU member states to grant protection to Edward Snowden, as a “human rights defender”. Parliament also raises concerns about surveillance laws in several EU countries.”

How this affects Snowden’s asylum in Russia is yet to be determined. It would be interesting to know how the European Parliament would vote for a similar resolution in regards to Julian Assange, currently exiled in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

European Parliament Votes in Broken Net Neutrality Laws

Despite challenges by activists, MEPs, and online businesses, the European Parliament (above) has voted in net neutrality laws that includes exceptions allowing traffic shaping and two-tier speeds, the very things net neutrality was designed to prevent. Loopholes in the legislation, opposed by many trying to protect the idea of a free and open internet, allows websites that pay ISPs for preferential treatment. The regulations came into effect in every European Union country following the commencement of the vote.

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said that the defeat of the amendments a sign that “corporate interests come first,” while Julia Reda, MEP for Germany’s Pirate Party, said the legislation allows for the creation of a “two-speed” internet.

“We are disappointed that the European Parliament has decided not to legislate on this critical issue,” Estelle Massé, Policy Analyst for Access Now, said. “By not supporting the necessary amendments to give clarity to the text, the Parliament has left it up to courts and national regulators to determine its meaning.”

However, Günther Oettinger, Commissioner of Digital Economy and Society in the EU, claimed the new law would “deliver tangible results to improve the daily lives of Europeans”.

“We will get for the first time ever net neutrality rules in EU law,” he added. “These rules protect the right of every European to access the content of their choice, without interference or discrimination.”

One good thing to come from the vote, though, is an end to roaming data charges across EU countries, which will come into effect on 15th June, 2017.

Europe is Close to Voting on Broken Net Neutrality Laws

Following years of discussion and drafting, the European Parliament is to vote on net neutrality laws next week, and if the legislation is approved then it could spell disaster for a free internet across Europe. It has been known for months that the EU’s net neutrality proposals are broken, and that its idea of “net neutrality” is a misnomer, but as well as creating internet fast lanes for paying companies, the latest draft of its bill will allow torrent and VPN throttling.

“This is a real problem for P2P applications. ISPs regularly throttle or otherwise interfere with peer-to-peer file-sharing applications to manage congestion if they are not prevented from doing so by network neutrality rules,” Barbara van Schewick told TorrentFreak.

“The provisions would allow ISPs to throttle or de-prioritize P2P file-sharing around the clock based on the ‘objective technical requirement’ that P2P file-sharing is not sensitive to delay,” she added.

In a post on Medium, van Schewick outlined the four major problems with the EU’s net neutrality proposal:

  • Problem #1: The proposal allows ISPs to create fast lanes for companies that pay through the specialized services exception.
  • Problem #2: The proposal generally allows zero-rating and gives regulators very limited ability to police it, leaving users and companies without protection against all but the most egregious cases of favoritism.
  • Problem #3: The proposal allows class-based discrimination, i.e. ISPs can define classes and speed up or slow down traffic in those classes even if there is no congestion.
  • Problem #4: The proposal allows ISPs to prevent “impending” congestion. That makes it easier for them to slow down traffic anytime, not just during times of actual congestion.

Anyone European citizen that is concerned that the proposed EU legislation will kill a free and open internet should contact their respective MEP to ask that they stand against issues that allow ISPs to shape, throttle, and prioritise internet traffic. More information can be found at SavetheInternet.eu.

Image courtesy of The Daily Dot

Wikipedia Wants to Stop the EU From Banning Photos Taken in Public Places

Do you like to read about public places and see how they look like? Wikipedia is full of the latter information, giving its users a chance to read about all sorts of places of interest. The thing is, Wikipedia is the main source of information when searching for just about anything nowadays.

However, the law that protects sites such as Wikipedia when posting public images is now threatened to be removed by the European Parliament. By the looks of it, Wikipedia is making use of the images while also protecting the respective artists’ rights to the photos, which makes it a win-win for both parties. So why take it down?

By revoking the law, thousands of images will be taken down and I personally consider the move to be a big blow to the access of information. For example, if a student would like to document himself about a certain style of architecture found in a place he cannot visit, why not view a picture of it online?

Freedom of panorama status around the world

The law that allows websites to post images taken in public places is named Freedom of Panorama and you can read more about it over on Wikipedia. They are also urging people to take action and block the EU Parliament’s decision to remove the law. More information about the latter can be found here.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

US Lawmakers Against Europe’s Google Break-Up Plan

Last week, the European Union’s Parliament called for Google to be broken up into separate businesses to curb the company’s internet monopoly. Now, US lawmakers have made their opposition to the idea very clear. According to the Financial Times last night, “Capitol Hill hit back at EU lawmakers on Tuesday for politicizing an antitrust investigation into Google, as tensions rose ahead of a European parliamentary vote calling for the possible break-up the technology group.”

The pointed letter from US lawmakers to their EU counterparts asks them to “consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services.” The resolution should pass in the European Parliament on Thursday, but it still needs to be ratified by the executive branch of the EU, the European Commission, to become law.

“Search engines like Google should not be allowed to use their market power to push forward other commercial activities of the same company,” one member of European Parliament said in support of the proposal.

Source: ars technica