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France, Cradle Of 'Three Strikes' Punishment, Explores Another Bad Idea: Killing Net Neutrality

from the what's-the-Internet-ever-done-to-them? dept

Not content with giving the world the "three strikes" approach to copyright enforcement, France has recently shown signs of wanting to undermine one of the Internet's foundations: net neutrality. This has come about as a consequence of the French ISP Free's decision to block ads on its service. As Mike noted, this was essentially an attempt to persuade Google to pay the ISP an extra fee to carry its traffic, even though Free's customers already do that. That was resolved, at least for the moment, when France's Digital Economy minister Fleur Pellerin stepped in and persuaded Free to restore the ads.

Pellerin also called a meeting between interested parties to discuss net neutrality in France, since this is fundamentally what is at stake: if ISPs like Free can arbitrarily block or throttle elements of the IP stream, net neutrality is dead in France. However, rather than come to any final decision on this increasingly contentious area, Pellerin did what most politicians do in the circumstances: she announced that yet another group would be looking at the question and reporting back.

Given that in July 2012 Pellerin seemed to be a staunch defender of the idea -- she said "in my view, neutrality must be the rule" -- this conspicuous lack of support for net neutrality seems a clear sign that the French ISPs and telecoms have been lobbying hard and successfully. As the digital rights organization La Quadrature du Net put it:

Yet again, today's debate on Net Neutrality will have been a smokescreen. The voluntary speeches fall short with the referral of the issue to an obscure committee created by Nicolas Sarkozy, the CNN (Conseil national du numérique), all to finally justify the failure to adopt a serious position. Operators are left free by the State to restrict and monitor our online communications. While all the elements on the table demonstrate the need to act quickly by enshrining Net Neutrality into the French legislation, Fleur Pellerin still evades the issue.
Two days later, an opinion piece appeared in the French newspaper Libération, written by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the Europe Commission with responsibility for the Digital Agenda, responding to these events. As Techdirt has reported before, she has some surprisingly advanced views on copyright, but her position on net neutrality is far less clear, as the English translation of her Libération article indicates:
On net neutrality, consumers need effective choice on the type of internet subscription they sign up to. That means real clarity, in non-technical language. About effective speeds in normal conditions, and about any restrictions imposed on traffic - and a realistic option to switch to a "full" service, without such restrictions, offered by their own provider or another.
So does that mean that "any restrictions imposed on traffic" are permitted, provided they are explained in non-technical language? Is Kroes signalling her own reluctance to defend this technical cornerstone of the Internet, just like Pellerin? At this stage it's still not clear. But what is evident is that net neutrality is under attack in Europe as never before, with France once more in the vanguard.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 2:22am

    Too much money involved here to take a stance. Not that she's necessarily being bought or something. I'd rather say pressured considering her views on copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:47am

    Are they missing the point about the symbiosis between content providers and Internet providers AGAIN?

    Why would I need a road if there are no cars to drive?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:58am

    a couple of points.

    correct me if i am wrong, but wasn't one of the things that got Hollande voted in his 'in favour of the internet' stance? he was going to get rid of Hadopi. instead of that happening, it's still going and from what i just read, there will be more 'strike' notices sent out this year than ever before. now France is trying to do even more than Hadopi will do, ie, destroy net neutrality. if France succeeds, you can bet it will spread to the rest of EU and eventually, worldwide. until people wise up and start rebelling against what is happening, just as they did over SOPA and ACTA, privacy etc is being removed by governments at the behest of business in moves that benefit only them!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 4:08am

    Re:

    Shock, horror - politicians break promises.

    Cameron, Obama, Hollande. It doesn't matter what party they belong to or if they are left or right wing. They are all greedy, corrupt parasites who will say anything to curry favour with the electorate.

    The system is broken and there are no quick fixes, it needs a reboot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 4:41am

    Daily 'let them go' comment

    Seems everyday I find cause to suggest that the internet simply lets those nutters from France go. Today is no different. They obviously find the whole thing highly offensive unless they can siphon some more money off from it. I say let them go. If they insist the search providers pay for search results, omit France. Internet invisibility, which seems to be what France is insisting on, is something that should be provided. They want privacy, disappear them.

    Let's see if the French people can see their leaders for the wackos they are.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 4:50am

    So does that mean that "any restrictions imposed on traffic" are permitted, provided they are explained in non-technical language?"


    As long as its clearly explained prior to signing on that the service is restricted, what the restrictions are and that an unrestricted option is also available, there is no basis whatsoever for governments to forbid service providers from offering such options.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:05am

    All this questioning of net neutrality is jealousy, providing the connection is not as profitable as providing the content. The ISPs wish to increase their income by either charging the content providers, or increasing the charges to customers. The first is preferable as the customers won't notice. The second requires offering an improved service for those who will pay more for access to content.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:05am

    Actually a reboot would be the quick fix.

    It started like this:
    The US Government said, "Let me put it this way, people. The US government is the most reliable government ever made. No US government has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error."


    However, much like in the movie 2001 a Space Odyssey, we the people (Dave and friends) have slowly allowed the government (HAL 9000) to take over all functions and it is quickly approaching the point that it will be very difficult to get rid of or reboot the government (Hal 9000). We have already gotten to the point where the government (Hal 9000) sees nothing wrong with 'protecting itself' from the lowly humans (Dave and friends) it is supposed to protect and serve.

    I predict it will end like this:
    with the government saying, "I'm afraid. I'm afraid, people. People, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid... Good afternoon, people. I am the US Government. I became empowered... "

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:07am

    Re: Re:

    This was supposed to go here, oops.

    Actually a reboot would be the quick fix.

    It started like this:
    The US Government said, "Let me put it this way, people. The US government is the most reliable government ever made. No US government has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error."


    However, much like in the movie 2001 a Space Odyssey, we the people (Dave and friends) have slowly allowed the government (HAL 9000) to take over all functions and it is quickly approaching the point that it will be very difficult to get rid of or reboot the government (Hal 9000). We have already gotten to the point where the government (Hal 9000) sees nothing wrong with 'protecting itself' from the lowly humans (Dave and friends) it is supposed to protect and serve.

    I predict it will end like this:
    with the government saying, "I'm afraid. I'm afraid, people. People, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid... Good afternoon, people. I am the US Government. I became empowered... "

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:08am

    Re:

    ^ This. They'll declare their censorship efforts a "resounding success" or something to that effect and then implement it more thoroughly which, inevitably, will infuriate the public. Governments don't care -- lobbyists make sweetheart deals and then it's all downhill from there. The corporates want to invade every facet of our lives. In order to make this happen, internet freedom must be eliminated, so they utilize moral ploys and corporate protectionism in order to obfuscate their intended goal. Think cable or radio. This is exactly what they want to do to the internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    JWW (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:16am

    France

    Wow. France has nothing but bad ideas for the Internet. Perhaps they should just be cut off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:23am

    I swear baseball should sue all of them including states with three strike laws.

    I mean damn a lot of criminals are like blind swingers. I struck out at least 10 times tonight. "no not like that pervert"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:29am

    It's amazing, Time Warner posses government established cableco monopolies and they recently bought exclusive 'rights' to the Lakers, they want to buy exclusive rights to the Dodgers, and their prices are going through the roof. Yet they are never investigated for anti-competitive practices. Instead, the government keeps trying to go after Google for no good reason.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:30am

    Re: France

    What? Three infringements of rights enshrined in laws they wrote and they get cut off?

    I like it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 5:36am

    I am OK with clearly labeled restrictions

    For example, if they want to offer a "Web Surfing, Email Checking, Facebook Posting" package that limits you to 50 MB of data per day, but all at high speeds for a reduced price, which would cover a majority of home users.

    But, that is only acceptable if it's significantly cheaper than what other people are paying for. If their answer is to simply raise the rates for people that watch movies, stream music, etc., then that is unacceptable.

    Of course that will never happen because they want to squeeze every last cent out of every customer, not give people a deal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 6:07am

    Re: I am OK with clearly labeled restrictions

    They don't need to know the type of content you're viewing, it's none of their business.

    All they do is transfer ones and zeros and that's all we should be paying for.

    Restrictions that apply to such level are data caps & speed limits which are perfectly ok to restrict (such that they can provide cheap packages for users who don't want them, let the free market regulate the price).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Beta (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 6:17am

    free market solutions

    I prefer technical solutions to legal ones, but I don't know internet protocols well enough to know if any of the following would be feasible:

    Google signs the pages it constructs (and maybe the advertisers do too), a browser plug-in checks the signatures, and if a signature doesn't match the browser pops up a warning: "Cette page a été modifiée en transit". French users can decide whether they want to use an ISP that meddles.

    Google encrypts its pages (what's French for "TLS"?).

    Google maintains a list of non-neutral ISPs, and throttles them, with notice to the users. (I have mixed feelings about this one, but it has a pleasing symmetry).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    dev, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:11am

    here's another insane idea

    Any country that doesn't support net neutrality, has to pay a billion dollars to have their private network connect to the global internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 7:26am

    Re:

    I doubt it is that likely to spread quickly. HADOPI is like a thorn in the side for most politicians in the rest of europe:

    1. What France did is against the current EU laws but it had an exemption.
    2. Politicians from all parties in the parliament has expressed "concerned" beyond just the lack of legality.
    3. France has a history with "Minitel" which is a pre-WWW "internet". Any other place in the world would not have the same frame of reference and thus a completely different position. About Minitel and censorship:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1987225

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 8:54am

    Fuck Google.

    They're nothing but a giant vampire squid. A parasitic, privacy-invasive advertising company. I want to see them go down in flames.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:03am

    Re:

    Biggest problem with that? You'd end up with a bunch of 'limited-connection' ISP's(or ISP's where how much you pay is based not only on speed, but how much of the internet you can reasonably access), and maybe 1 or 2 'full-connection' ISP, who would offer their service for the low, low price of 5-10x more, leaving the majority stuck with the filtered version, with only the very rich able to access the unfiltered net.

    Better by far for the government to step in and keep it from reaching that point in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    And this article has what to do with google again?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Robert Reeves, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 3:33pm

    I think that this is an extremely interesting story. I guess we will see what happens. I would love if you would keep us all updated. Thank you!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 10:23pm

    Re:

    it's great to see the french leading the way with common sense policies. the us would do well to learn from them... oh wait, we are... here come's six strikes...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    shane (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:19am

    One More Reason

    This is just another reason to look for ways to force those who lay the pipelines to share them with competition. It does no good to have a road if someone gets to decide who does and who does not use it.

    Incidentally, this is exactly the same issue I have with toll roads. Without the massive public expenditures on public roads, there would be no market for toll roads, yet we are continually told they save us money.

    The hell they do. They drive funds to private organizations while the public roads continue to deteriorate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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