The European Union's New Net Neutrality 'Protections' Are A Joke

from the blind-and-beholden dept

After months of negotiations (read: ISP lawyer and lobbyist rewrites), the European Union has voted to approve new net neutrality rules (pdf) that for many nation states may be worse than having no net neutrality protections at all. As we’ve noted, the rules ignore zero rating, carve out massive loopholes for “specialized services,” “class-based discrimination,” and even include provisions allowing ISP throttling and discrimination provided it’s addressing phantom congestion that hasn’t even happened yet. In short, these rules effectively protect ISPs looking to creatively violate net neutrality, not European consumers.

European Parliament members completely ignored last-minute suggested amendments that would have closed these loopholes. They also completely ignored opposition to the rules by the likes of BitTorrent, EyeEm, Foursquare, Kickstarter, WordPress, Netflix, Reddit, Transferwise, Vimeo, the EFF and Tim Berners-Lee (who penned a lengthy blog post outlining his opposition to the rules). Similarly, only 50 MEPs out of the European Parliament’s total of 751 could be bothered to even attend a superficial “debate” preceding the approval vote.

These pathetic protections were accepted in part because they were sold as part of a Telecoms Single Market package that was to include significant abolition of steep European roaming fees on wireless networks. Many MEPs didn’t fight harder on net neutrality because they thought they were at least getting some decent wireless market reform. But as German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda notes, even the roaming provisions appear to have been notably gutted from the final offering:

“Despite all this, the regulation was passed unchanged by a majority in plenary today, a decision that may have been influenced by the public?s attention for the provision on the elimination of roaming surcharges that was included in the legislative package. Unfortunately, the Telecoms Single Market package doesn?t deliver in that respect either. The plan to place an end to roaming surcharges in Europe has been adopted pending a review of pricing and consumption patterns. Even if the review is completed by the 15 June 2017 deadline, roaming surcharges will only be suspended up to a ?fair use? limit beyond which they still apply and continue to hinder the breaking down of barriers within Europe.”

In other words, even the carrot on a stick used to lure European Parliament members into voting for bad net neutrality rules wound up being rotten. Of course, European ISPs shouldn’t pat themselves on the back just yet. The EU’s flimsy rules strongly resemble the original, pathetic net neutrality rules passed here in the States in 2010. Those rules, all but written by AT&T, Verizon and Google, were so obviously useless that consumer outrage forced the government to revisit an issue they honestly believed they’d put to bed. The U.S. now has notably tougher net neutrality rules than ever, assuming they aren’t dismantled by the courts.

As EU member residents realize their new net neutrality rules actually protect ISPs, you’ll likely see a strong push for the entire issue to be revisited down the road, much to the chagrin of ISP lawyers who believe they’ve just put the issue to bed.

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Comments on “The European Union's New Net Neutrality 'Protections' Are A Joke”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You have to pass it to read it

It was a non-issue. While the bill was gutted to hell, every party was interested in the roaming issue and could sell that as a massive win for ideology and national interests. The net-neutrality was completely left up to european ISPs. European ISPs suffer from the same lack of competition and getting massive subsidies as you know it from USA. Needless to say they have got plenty of money to use on convincing politicians and since they gave something in the form of accepting a gutted roaming-reform, they were awarded with advantages in the rest of the bill.

Please stop calling it net-neutrality. The result is anything but neutral and I don’t even know if it is formulated for a net since it is so vague!

Anonymous Coward says:


I’ll repeat what I said earlier this week: this is NOT net neutrality. Rather, it is the explicit permission to do the exact opposite.

If you really want net neutrality, you just need one rule:

“ISP must pass all requests and data from all customers (both clients and servers) without regard of the origin, destination, nature and/or content in an equally swift manner.”

Every other rule can only make it less neutral.

legalcon (profile) says:


Here’s an even more novel idea: DON’T REGULATE THE INTERNET. Of course, since people make money off selling bandwidth, making them inherently evil, the idiots here will naturally find this notion offensive, if they understand it at all.

Of course, it would also be nice if we could force local governments to deregulate local zoning laws, which might allow for additional land-based connectivity and competition, but that would strip those idiots of what little power they have too. Then again, competition means more evil money grubbers, so naturally we should oppose that too.

tqk (profile) says:

The plan to place an end to roaming surcharges in Europe has been adopted pending a review of pricing and consumption patterns. Even if the review is completed by the 15 June 2017 deadline, roaming surcharges will only be suspended up to a ‘fair use’ limit beyond which they still apply and continue to hinder the breaking down of barriers within Europe.”

In other words, even the carrot on a stick used to lure European Parliament members into voting for bad net neutrality rules wound up being bought.

FTFY. Can’t everybody smell the stink of cash buying politicos’ and lobbyists’ efforts? Why do we suffer these assholes’ existence? They’re like mold on old bread. Throw it out.

Europe (nobody) needs roaming fees, ffs, and everybody sees the sense in this. It’s all machines connecting with other machines. If it’s harder for others than some tell them to fix it to keep up. Don’t entrench it by paving over it with extortionate fees for your easily overcome ineptitude & rentseeking. It’s robbery defended by ineptitude.

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