In a joint letter, FDN Federation, with 72 other civil society organisations from the five continents, calls on the European Telecom Regulators to uphold net neutrality in their current negotiations about the future of the Internet in Europe.
After 2 years, the EU adopted a net neutrality law which leaves many core questions up for interpretation. The Telecom Single Market regulation was adopted in October 2015 in second reading in the European Parliament.
The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) and the 28 telecom regulators are currently negotiating guidelines that clarify the recently adopted ambigous European net neutrality law. The regulators have until August 2016 to publish their final guidelines and will hold a public consultation from June to July, leaving little time to civil society to take up the subject.
Europe is in the final stages of the fight for net neutrality. The outcome of this process is completely open. Whether zero-rating, DPI and paid prioritization are allowed for half a billion people depends on the final guidelines that will be published late August 2016. Europe could either follow the global trend towards strong safeguards or set a dangerous precedent.
"The european regulators' responsability is now to give strong guarantees regarding their fundamental freedoms to citizens", says the vice-president of the Federation, Oriane Piquer-Louis.
The letter from 72 NGOs points out the telecom regulators to consider :
- So called "specialized services", which risk to become paid fast lanes that circumvent all net neutrality safeguards. They should be tightly defined to only cover services which are technically not possible with a strict net neutrality.
- Interpreting the EU regulation as banning application-specific Zero-Rating : it is a harmful practice that restricts consumer choice, distorts competition, perpetuates cheaper low-speed accesses and undermines the freedom to do business.
- Traffic managment should be as application-agnostic as possible. When telecom companies decide about the priority of packets over others, this risks discriminating against services -including encrypted traffic- , and harming user choice.
The legal text leaves room for interpretation on the possibility to allow and prohibit paid fast-lanes, zero-rating or privacy-intrusive traffic managment forms like Deep Packet Inspection. Basically the legislator kicked the can down the road and now the unelected regulators have to decide on the future of Europe's Internet.
FDN Federation, with other signatories of this letter, therefore calls not to to keep pressuring the telecommunications regulatory authorities. Members of the Federation, being ISPs, are directly affected by the work of these bodies, and thus all the more vigilant concerning guarantees that BEREC must implement. It invites us to take part in the alternative consultation on savetheinternet.eu to inform the regulator on its responsibilities.