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EU Wants To Enshrine Network Neutrality In Law 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the after-that-see-if-you-can-make-watching-game-of-thrones-easier dept.
Bismillah writes "Following the example of the Dutch, who enacted laws supporting network neutrality, the European Union is now looking at doing the same. They are pushing for an end to the throttling and blocking of services such as Skype and Whatsapp by providers hoping to drive users to their own competing services. The EU also wants a service transparency requirement for ISPs, so people know what they're buying — like minimum speed. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out."
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EU Wants To Enshrine Network Neutrality In Law

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @03:38AM (#43912175)

    Looks like Europeans are caring more about their freedoms than Americans.

    • by prefec2 (875483) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:10AM (#43912289)

      That only looks that way, because the grass is greener on the other side. In Germany, one of the bigger EU countries, the German Telekom (former national telecommunication corporation) want to shape traffic for non-Telekom media products by 2016. The German government said: 'That is bad!' But they do not try to stop the Telekom from doing so. Sometimes there is only hope in the EU. And that is a rather strange feeling.

      • What should the government do?
        Write a Lex Telekom, especially targeting this company?

        The consumer protection agencies and the Federal Cartel Office are on the case and inspect if the Deutsche Telekom is breaking laws.
        That's how it should be.

        I'm opposed to the government changing legislation 'on the fly' just because one company does something bad.
        First, we need to make sure that the current laws don't cover this action.
        Then the parliament can look into the matter and if necessary make a new law after proper

        • by prefec2 (875483)

          I'm opposed to the government changing legislation 'on the fly' just because one company does something bad.

          True, they should analyze the problem first, which they have, because the already concluded that the proposed action of Deutsche Telekom would harm net-neutrality.

          First, we need to make sure that the current laws don't cover this action.

          It doesn't. Otherwise it would have been pointed out by now. The law should also not be designed to address the direct issue, which came up recently, but it should address net-neutrality in general.

          Then the parliament can look into the matter and if necessary make a new law after proper deliberations.

          The government should have started this process by now, but instead they decided to wait. They did not say "We look into it.". they said: "We look into

          • First, we need to make sure that the current laws don't cover this action.

            It doesn't. Otherwise it would have been pointed out by now. The law should also not be designed to address the direct issue, which came up recently, but it should address net-neutrality in general.

            As I wrote: the consumer protection agencies (Verbraucherzentralen) and the cartel office (Bundeskartellamt) are analyzing the situation. So I'd say your wrong: It is not yet clear if the actions of the Deutsche Telekom can be addressed with current laws.

            (BTW: I'm German, so I follow this situation in the German media.)

        • by GNious (953874)

          I'm opposed to the government changing legislation 'on the fly' just because one company does something bad.
          First, we need to make sure that the current laws don't cover this action.
          Then the parliament can look into the matter and if necessary make a new law after proper deliberations.

          What country do you live in?

          Where I'm from, the government is doing 50% kneejerk laws, without checking if existing laws covers the case (which is often the case)

      • Except, they do. There are examinations ongoing if the Telekom is using its market leader position for unfair practices, pecisely because of this.
        • by hweimer (709734)

          There are examinations ongoing if the Telekom is using its market leader position for unfair practices, pecisely because of this.

          Nice try. The head of the Federal Network Agency has recently been replaced by a party shill [golem.de]. Same guy who has now to explain a thing or two about how he secured a job [spiegel.de] for the ex-lover of one of Germany's top politicians of the Christian right.

      • by longk (2637033)

        Two simple reasons for that:

        1) Your government realizes that they don't have a say in the matter. Don't forget the Lissabon treaty is not really a treaty. Germany is no longer a sovereign state.

        2) By letting the EU do something "for the people" rather than doing it themselves they improve the image of the EU with the naive citizens. Good cop/bad cop standard story.

      • by richlv (778496)

        in germany, there are no free/open wifi networks.
        copyright groups have owned the government and there are laws that make owner of the wifi connection guilty of whatever happened through it. coupled with insane laws on copyright (and spending money on enforcing them), this has resulted in eradication of anonymity. actually, thinking about it, government might like that a lot...

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      In this case it is more of a consumer rights issue, something that the EU seems to take a lot more interest in than the US with its free market approach.

  • This is coming from the same politicians who claim that directing traffic from someone in Zimbabwe to a server in Zimbabwe is discrimination. European Union politicians simply cannot be trusted as none have been elected by the people, so one can only wonder whose interests they serve.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So are you telling me US politicians are better? Elected by the people but actually serving big companies? At least with the Europeans we don't yet know for sure if they serve the people :D

    • by Zumbs (1241138) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:00AM (#43912253) Homepage

      European Union politicians simply cannot be trusted as none have been elected by the people, so one can only wonder whose interests they serve.

      That is quite a blanket statement. Members of the EU Parliament are politicians and directly elected by the people, so it is also wrong. Note that I am not saying that the European Union does not have serious democratic problems. The EU Parliament holds few of the powers usually attributed to parliaments and the EU Commission is appointed by the EU governments, so it is "buffered" against the people.

      • by pr100 (653298)

        Indeed and there's more to it than that. Serious policy changes cannot happen without the consent of the Council of Ministers. This is a body made up of government ministers from member states. You don't get to be a government minister without some kind of democratic legitimacy. Of course the exact process by which people get appointed as ministers varies by member state.

        Of course policy is also made by the courts. We like to maintain the fiction that courts just apply the law. But there's much more to it t

      • by Xest (935314)

        They're not just directly elected by the people either, they're directed through a form of proportional representation so they're actually more representative of the make up of each nation's vote than most national parliaments are.

        Certainly the consistency and spread of EP representatives of the UK are much more representative of popular support than our national government is.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        But that's not a problem with the EU. The Comission and the Council of Ministers are bad exactly because it's left to the national governments to pick them.

    • [Citation needed]

    • by prefec2 (875483)

      The EU-parliament is elected by the European people. The EU-commission is initiated by the governments of the EU-member states, which are either directly elected by the people or elected by their national parliaments. furthermore, the commission have to be approved by the parliament. It is true, however, that the EU-commission should be more transparent and it would be a great step forward if it would be initiated by the parliament or elected by the public. These changes would have been possible in the Lisb

    • by lxs (131946)

      Damn right! This is Brussels bureaucracy gone mad! What's next? Banning heavy metals from childrens toys? How dare those damn Eurocrats protect my interests!

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:43AM (#43912399)

    There is Kroes and a number of others who want to keep the internet free, so it can defend democratic values and such.
    And then there are those who are bought by lobbyists, and who support the ISPs as well as the music/movie industry and wish to tie it down and control it, in the name of The Economy and Profit.

    It's a good thing that Neelie Kroes is quite a big shot in the EU government (the "European Commission digital agenda vice-president" is important in this matter)...

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      The problem is that both sides fight by introducing more regulations on the net. Whichever side wins, the free Internet will lose.

  • Hypocrites (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brusco (697112) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:47AM (#43912415)
    Let them first stop censoring the internet [torrentfreak.com].
    • Re:Hypocrites (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:56AM (#43912451)

      Actually not. Hosting copyrighted content and the infringement is dealt with according to law. But this does not mean that legitimate uses of bittorrent should suffer. There is nothing hypocritical about this. Just common sense.
      Not everything in the EU is roses and sunshine, but this is right and I welcome the effort.

    • by Xest (935314)

      How is that hypocritical and which idiots modded this up?

      What has a historical national court ruling got to do with future EU wide law planning?

      There's nothing hypocritical there because you have two distinct bodies going different ways.

      A dutch court has absolutely zero control over or relevance to future European Parliament legislation. If the EU goes ahead with this the dutch court will have to comply once it's government implements the relevant legislation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @04:59AM (#43912461)

    Before you start accusing the Netherlands or the EU over being overzealus about this, consider that these laws were a response to the biggest mobile internet provider in the Netherlands announcing plans to block WhatsApp access, and only allow access to it to those who payed up, after people stopped text-messaging in droves in favor of WhatsApp. This didn't come out of the blue, and I personally feel stopping this sort of thing is a good(tm) thing.

  • A good speech (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hrshgn (595514) <rince2001NO@SPAMgmx.ch> on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @05:08AM (#43912489)
    Just finished reading Neelie Kroes' speech an I really like it. Good to see that an influential politician has a long-term vision of how the internet has evolved and into which direction it should go.

    You can read the speech here and also leave your comments on specific sections: http://commentneelie.eu/speech.php?sp=SPEECH/13/498 [commentneelie.eu]
  • Now I wonder how this will play with website blocking in the UK, Italy, Denmark, ...
    • by Teun (17872)
      No connection what so ever, this is about blocking commercial entities deciding what's good for them needs to be good for you.
      • by LubosD (909058)
        Well, too bad the government thinks it *knows* what's good for us when blocking "illegal" websites.
  • Europe, like any other region of this world, is dependent on its member states' economies being successful in maximizing their profits. That, and the fact that the EU in its heart is an economic union, not a civil rights institution, is the reason why there are, by conservative estimation, 15,000 lobbyists working in brussels, making 20 per member of the European Parliament, 550 per member of the European Commission. Which is why the EU, just as any other governmentorial institution in this world, usually c

    • by Teun (17872)

      the only puropose of elections is to hold up the illusion that people could influence politics

      That's a nasty demon driving you.

      As an European I don't agree with you at all, the breadth and width of the political spectrum is so great you can't possibly claim all is stitched up.

      • That's not the point. The political spectrum can be as broad and wide as it may, within the general conditions of the existing economic world system nothing can be done without money, and money can only be extracted from the proceeds of a profitable domestic economy. So politics is, as a simple matter of fact, always and completely at the mercy of economy.

    • by Xest (935314)

      "Which is why the EU, just as any other governmentorial institution in this world, usually creates laws and decisions in favor of the big money, not the people."

      Do you have any evidence of this? From what I've seen the EU seems to enact laws that are more in favour of the people than the laws enacted by the constituent governments of the member nations.

      "And which is why a decision in favour of network neutrality, which would interfere with the profit maximization of the biggest European telcos, is improbabl

      • Of course there are exceptions to the rule, otherwise ecology and resources and general living conditions would have already deteriorated to the point of being beyond all bearing.

        EU lobbyism is nearly exclusively for big economy and big industry and there can be no doubt about it as it is, as of today, closely watched (e.g. by groups like http://www.alter-eu.org/ [alter-eu.org]). The notion that charity lobbies may have more influence in Brussels than big money is more than ridiculous.

        But all the lobbyism wouldn't even be

  • They should enforce truth in advertising: "Warning. We deliberately slow down Skype and YouTube to make their product seem worse compared to ours. Do you want to sign up with us?"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What if I'm a customer and I want streaming audio prioritized, for the obvious reason that it's better not to have it burp when some software updater checks for patches?

    It would be hard enough for technical people to define "network neutrality", let alone government. Don't get me wrong. I like the concept of network neutrality. Violations are like obscenity though. "you know it when you see it".

    I think the best thing the government can do is define "the spirit of the law" and then let judges decide in c

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