Portal:Net Neutrality

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Portal about Net Neutrality[modifier

Net Neutrality Logo
To read

Net Neutrality is a concept fundamental to the Internet. It provides the space in which a free-market economy, innovation and fundamental liberties of persons can realise itself. Both for technical and economic reasons, Net Neutrality had been preserved up to now. But it is now increasingly threatened by the network operators who see commercial opportunities in charging for prioritisation of certain access over other. Follow developments on this dossier by visiting Respect My Net.

To Come

  • 4/5 June - The Council of the European Union will deliberate on the regulation proposed by the European Parliament (and adopted in first reading on 3rd of April) on the Telecom Single market that contains provisions on Net Neutrality.


How to act[modifier

On the 3rd of April the European Parliament voted the regulation on the Telecom Single Market which contained a strong version of the Net Neutrality principle. The text now goes to the Council of the European Union, in which the member countries' governments are represented, and there is a real threat that the text will be amended in favour of the interests of Telecom businesses. It is therefore important that we remain vigilant on this dossier.

During the European Elections it is a good idea to ask how the MEP in your area stood on the question of Net Neutrality (and other topics of course such as Data protection). Stay informed. Get ready. If the Council amends the text, it will go back to the Parliament and we'll mobilise again to defend the interests of society.


What is Net Neutrality ?[modifier

Non Net Neutrality illustrated

Net neutrality! This rather misunderstood term forms the essence of the net as we have come to know and love it. In the numerical realm, net neutrality ensures free competition, innovation and fundamental liberties and rights. Until now net neutrality has been the default state of affairs - for technical as well as for economic reasons. However, net neutrality is under threat from network operators that see commercial opportunity in controlling the flow of information through their networks.


When you send a package in the post the postal service doesn't open the package to take a look at the contents to find out who has sent the package, nor to ascertain by what route they would prefer to deliver it by and how fast. The role of the postal service is limited to delivering your package. The service can thereby considered to be 'neutral' with regard to sender, recipient and content.

The same applies to the internet: as long as there is no discrimination on the basis of the sender, recipient or content of the information being sent, the internet can be said to be neutral - hence net neutrality. Net operators do not get to decide which service, application or information is prioritised on the basis of the content. This principle forms the basis of the internet.

Both in the European Union and the United States of America, Net Neutrality has recently been loosing ground against the financial interests of broadband operators and application providers. Corporations are abusing the ambiguity around the term and it is therefore important that we do not loose sight of the importance of preventing discrimination on the basis of content, sender or recipient.



How to help Net Neutrality ?[modifier

RespectMyNet

The RespectMyNet platform allows citizens to list and inform about Internet access restrictions imposed by operators.

Citizens can submit cases of infringement on the principle of Net neutrality, or confirm those already listed. That way, regulators cannot ignore any longer the numerous access restrictions and “application-specific” techniques which undermine freedom of communication, privacy, as well as competition and innovation online. These reports, even if they draw up an incomplete situation's picture, are already used in the national and European regulators' works. The project will help to increase pressure on the European Commission to legislate on Net neutrality.

Contribute

If you want to go further, whatever your skills are, you can participate to the development of the project by contacting us in our IRC channel: #nnmon,by email at: contact at laquadrature.net ou by subscribing to the Respect My Net mailing list.

Support la Quadrature du Net

If you can afford it, financial support is of course greatly appreciated. You can make a donation to help La Quadrature keep fighting for Net Neutrality and acting on the other dossiers it works on.


Why is it important ?[modifier

Why do we need Net Neutrality?

This principle of Net Neutrality is fundamental for the protection of essential values of our societies:

Competition

An Internet provider can easily favour their services over their competitors' if they are allowed to do things that go against the concept of Net Neutrality. In France for example, three operators "forbid" their mobile internet customers to use Voice over IP software (VoIP, e.g. Skype), forcing them to pay their national and international communications at the (higher) rates offered by their network. These anti-competitive practices are harmful to consumers, economic growth and innovation.

Innovation

Net Neutrality ensures that new entrants into the digital economy find a relatively level playing-field, at least with regard to access to broadband networks. Without Net Neutrality, broadband operators can charge Internet service providers in order to "prioritise" access to them. The initial over-head of start-ups would therefore be much more significant. Since its creation the Internet has develops thanks "Some guys in a garage somewhere" that developed myriads of projects and tiny start-ups, amongst other, Google, Wikipedia, Skype, eBay, BitTorrent, Twitter... This "innovation without licence" is healthy and provivides significant stimulus to the economy.

Liberties and fundamental rights

The article 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 proclaims: "The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law."

The French Constitutional Council, confirming what the European Parliament has already expressed, enriched the article by declaring: "As is means of communication and in consideration of the development generalized by communication's services to the online public as well as to the importance taken by these services for the participation in the democratic life and the expression of the ideas and the opinions, this right involves the freedom to reach these services."

Today, Internet is a essential tool of exercise of the freedom of expression and communication for the smooth running of our democracies. Blogs, microblogs, social networks and instant messagings are so many new methods to participate in the public debate. In a democracy, only a judge must be able to restrict the citizens' fundamental liberties such the freedom of expression. What will it happen if the control of these new tools would be offered to companies?

Why is Net Neutrality in danger?

The Internet is developing and growing constantly, making bigger and bigger demands on networks. Until now, when networks were saturated, network operators invested in more bandwidth and increased the power of the global infrastructure. While users paid for access to the internet, broadband operators did not charge internet service providers (ISP, those entitites providing services such as google, duckduckgo, yahoo, skype, dropbox, linphone,...). They are now developing a business model that would allow them to charge users (individuals at home, companies that require access to the internet) and ISPs but promising greater speed for certain services. This discrimination would break Net Neutrality rules. This would give network operators much more power to discriminate on Internet communications. Although telecom operators keep arguing that technically, they need to be able to favour some internet packages (data, communication) over other, and used to argument to pursuade the European Parliament (unsuccessfully), it is not technically true if they were willing to reinvest their profits in more infrastructure.



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