Thursday, October 08, 2009

La Quadrature sees Article 21 USD as a 'sell-out' - is it?

Felix kindly points me to the Quadrature analysis of the fact that the USD does permit ISPs to slow access where they transparently indicate they will - and that competition alone will not solve the issue.
As regular readers know, I am no net neutrality absolutist or zealot, and have all along said my aim was to find a Middle Way - which means finding minimal rules that recalcitrant NRAs and the EC will have to enforce. Heaven can wait!
La Quadrature suggests the following way forward, which frankly I do not believe can or will occur, at the present stage of legislator and regulator ignorance of the issue:
'The public interest agenda in telecoms regulation is to codify clear limits for these practices for the protection of network neutrality. The provisions of the Telecoms Package as they stand suggest otherwise: they can be read as authorizing operators to abandon network neutrality for the sake of business models or the protection of private interests. These provisions must be amended or they must be placed under the umbrella of an overarching principle that clarifies that they can not lead to any form of network discrimination against contents, sources, destinations, media, applications, services or protocols running over the Internet Protocol.

As the conciliation committee negotiates the final text of the Telecoms package directives, European lawmakers must protect the value of the Internet for enhanced citizenship and more innovative markets :by getting rid of the anti-Net neutrality phrasing of Article 20 and 21 of the Universal Service Directive and by amending the Framework Directive, to clearly make Net neutrality a fundamental regulatory principle in the European telecommunications market.'

1 comment:

Felix said...

Yes, it is unfortunately too late for correcting the bad provisions pushed for by AT&T. Neither the Council nor the Parliament wanted to reopen the whole package... Now the debate comes down to defending amendment 138.
The latter says that "no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users without a prior ruling of the judicial authorities".
To me, it sounds that it can (and should) be interpreted as a pro-net neutrality provision (not only anti-Three Strikes).

Then again, however, the Council wants governments to be able to regulate the Internet without interference from the judicial authority. And so operators as well could end up benefiting from the undermining of the amendment...

Anyway, the package will remain at best ambiguous regarding net neutrality. We will need a clear commitment on the part of the new European Commission to ban unfair discriminating practices. "So that we can keep the net as it should be, open and free" (to quote President Obama).