The European Union is moving ahead to legislate net neutrality and enforce a free and open internet! Hooray! Only, the EU is trying to change the meaning of words to make its net neutrality laws nothing of the sort. The key to the EU’s obfuscation is the term “specialised services”; under this banner, companies can throttle speeds and prioritize traffic to their heart’s content.
The current draft of the EU net neutrality legislation looks promising:
The rules enshrine the principle of net neutrality into EU law: no blocking or throttling of online content, applications and services. It means that there will be truly common EU-wide Internet rules, contributing to a single market and reversing current fragmentation.
- Every European must be able to have access to the open Internet and all content and service providers must be able to provide their services via a high-quality open Internet.
- All traffic will be treated equally. This means, for example, that there can be no paid prioritisation of traffic in the Internet access service. At the same time, equal treatment allows reasonable day-to-day traffic management according to justified technical requirements, and which must be independent of the origin or destination of the traffic.
But this defines just one category of internet traffic. The second is classed as “specialised services”, which will allow for the “paid prioritisation”, “blocking”, and “throttling” that is prohibited from other parts of the internet:
What are specialised services (innovative services or services other than Internet access services)?
The new EU net neutrality rules guarantee the open Internet and enable the provision of specialised or innovative services on condition that they do not harm the open Internet access. These are services like IPTV, high-definition videoconferencing or healthcare services like telesurgery. They use the Internet protocol and the same access network but require a significant improvement in quality or the possibility to guarantee some technical requirements to their end-users that cannot be ensured in the best-effort open Internet. The possibility to provide innovative services with enhanced quality of service is crucial for European start-ups and will boost online innovation in Europe. However, such services must not be a sold as substitute for the open Internet access, they come on top of it.
In segregating the internet into two categories, enforcing open internet laws on one and allowing the other to exploit traffic in whatever way it seems fit, the EU is making a mockery of net neutrality, with the bill itself becoming an oxymoron. Let’s hope that by 2016, when the laws are set to take effect, that the European Union can deliver true net neutrality to the citizens of Europe.
Thank you TechDirt for providing us with this information.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia.