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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: broadband, eu, eu parliament, europe, loopholes, net neutrality, roaming, telcos, zero rating


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2015 @ 12:02pm

    Newspeak...

    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.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

Introducing the new Techdirt Insider Chat, now hosted on Discord. If you are an Insider with a membership that includes the chat feature and have not yet been invited to join us on Discord, please reach out here.

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.