Will true net neutrality or Kroes’ net neutrality prevail tomorrow?
Tomorrow the European Parliament will vote on whether to enshrine net neutrality in European law. It will be so enshrined, but whether it is genuine net neutrality as understood worldwide, or Neelie Kroes’ redefinition of the term to suit big telecoms business is on a knife-edge.
Kroes, the European Commission and the telecoms lobbying industry wants to define neutrality to include the right to charge more for some and bandwidth manage (that is, restrict) others. This is not ‘net neutrality’.
Ranged against this is a series of amendments designed to prevent the telecoms industry from discriminating against any section of their customers. This will abandon the Kroes’ definition and ensure the genuine thing. On paper, these amendments carry a majority — but whether everyone can remain firm and vote for the people rather than business will not be known until tomorrow.
Yesterday, four big telecommunications trade associations got together and delivered possibly the last big pressure document.
Cable Europe represents the leading European cable TV operators throughout Europe. The European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) represents the block’s biggest telecoms companies, like Deutsche TelekomDTE.XE +0.04%, Orange SAORA.FR +0.05%., and Telefónica, S.A. ECTA, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association, represents the smaller, newer telecoms companies that usually challenge ETNO members. And the GSM Association represents mobile.
Battle Lines Drawn Over Net Neutrality in Europe
What they demand is defeat of the amendments, which they claim will “prevent operators from efficiently managing their networks and from providing innovative services that require enhanced levels of quality, such as telemedicine or e-education.”
La Quadrature du Net explains the knife-edge:
The number of parliamentarians in the groups that tabled the amendments adds to 372 votes which almost represents an absolute majority in the 766-seat Parliament. With the support of independents and some representatives from the centre-right EPP group, these amendments can therefore pass. Unfortunately, although ALDE tabled positive amendments, it is not certain that the whole group will vote in favour. Despite recommendations by civil society organisations, for instance those of La Quadrature du Net, parliamentarians, faced with important efforts by the lobby of big telecom and even by the European Commission, might be swayed to vote against the interest of the wider citizenry and small and medium enterprises.
Only a Few Hours Left to Save the Internet!
It’s an important vote. It could maintain or destroy net neutrality in Europe. La Quadrature is calling on all Europeans to urgently contact their European parliamentarians in these last few hours. Vote for the amendments.