Net Neutrality: Trialogue betrayed European Parliament's vote

UPDATE 20 JULY 2015 : Final version of the regulation (including recitals)

Paris, 30 June 2015 – After months of negotiations behind closed doors between the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament (trialogue), the very positive text on Net Neutrality adopted by the European Parliament in April 2014 has become more ambiguous and weaker. Net Neutrality deserves more guarantees and La Quadrature du Net is regretting a third-rate agreement.

Last night at 2 am, the trialogue's negotiators on the Telecom single market Regulation found an agreement. The text adopted by the three institutions, which was supposed to define the guarantees surrounding Net neutrality and provide a framework for so-called "specialised services", is disappointing and brings very little safeguards for users.

Indeed, the definition of Net neutrality has disappeared, even though the text begins by recalling the necessity of an open and non discriminatory Internet and an equal process of all Internet traffic. Likewise, provisions on specialised services are very blurred and equivocal and may be used by operators and large online services to circumvent Net Neutrality and harm consumers' freedom of choice as well as competition and innovation.

An important role is given to national regulatory authorities which may arise doubts on very numerous interpretations regarding each country. Citizens must put pressure on the European and national authorities to ensure that, in their implementation, those blurred principles can be used to dismantle increasing oligopolisation of the Internet, which only benefits large telecom operators and big American platforms.

After months of campaign and citizens' participation on this complex matter, La Quadrature du Net regrets that the trialogue reached such a weak and unclear text, whereas the version coming from the European Parliament in April 2014 was balanced and precise one. The mad lobbying carried on by telecommunication operators has, once again, overcome the public interest in protecting Net neutrality. Policy-makers both within national governments, at the EU Commission and in the EU Parliament jointly share the responsibility for this sad outcome. At a time where the European Union is preparing its digital strategy, this third-rate agreement unfortunately shows they are unable to actually listen to the voice of citizens and resist the corporations that seek to become the Internet's gatekeepers.