Will EU Give Up On Protecting a Free Internet?

Citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net says the European Parliament’s proposed resolution on Net Neutrality is very weak and reflects the strong influence of telecom operators.

“Sadly, even though several tabled amendments aim for real protection of Net neutrality, leading MEPs so far fail to propose enforceable principles to prevent telcos from discriminating online communications. Will the power of lobbyists such as of AT&T override the European Union’s objective to protect its citizens’ online freedoms?

Amendments to the weak draft Net neutrality resolution by the European Parliament’s committee on Industry, Transport, Research and Energy (ITRE) have been published. Quite shockingly, none of the leading MEPs on this dossier seems to realize how pressing the issue is. Neither Lambert van Nistelrooij (conservative), Catherine Trautmann (socialist) nor Jen Rohde (liberal), have dared request concrete measures from the Commission to ensure that telecom operators abide by Net Neutrality.

Yet, a strong policy in favour of non-discrimination of online communications is absolutely necessary to guarantee citizens’ rights to free communication, competition and innovation. Evidence is already widely available that European operators engage in harmful practices, as demonstrated by citizen reports of dozens of breaches to Net neutrality on the RespectMyNet.eu platform.

While some of their members are ready to stick to the status quo defended by powerful industrial giants like AT&T (which doesn’t operate a network in the EU and is about to end unlimited access in the US), the socialist (S&D), the liberals (ALDE) and conservative (EPP) groups are actually very divided. Very constructive amendments have also been tabled by members from each of these groups.”

“The ongoing discussion on the proposed Net Neutrality resolution will proceed with back-room negotiations of ‘compromise amendments’. MEPs who really care for online freedoms have an opportunity to make a strong call in favour of Net Neutrality. Given the passivity of commissioner Neelie Kroes on the issue [5], the Parliament must absolutely amend this resolution so that citizens’ rights ultimately prevail over the business interest of telecom operators”, said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.