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.
Parliament rejects amendments to protect #NetNeutrality, allows loopholes for Internet of two speeds. Will let you know how each MEP voted.
— Julia Reda (@Senficon) October 27, 2015
“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.