Does Commissioner Oettinger Want to Discard Net Neutrality?

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Paris, 18 November 2014 — Günther Oettinger, Digital Commissioner made his first post on his blog in which he clearly introduces garanteeing internet access in rural zones as justification to give in to the demands of the Telcos to consolidate or increase their unwarranted earnings. Although the author has tried to avoid mentioning Net Neutrality, this blog post reveals his intended strategy regarding this principle.

There are indeed a number of crucial inequalities in the capacity to use Internet as an autonomous mean of expression, creation, innovation and construction of social bonds. These inequalities separate those who have the means to choose the tools and services they use from those who are limited to the services operators have decided to offer them. If Internet access spreads and has generalised in Europe, including in rural zones, it is precisely because we have refrained Telco policies of which Oettinger rephrases the worst arguments. If he wants to accelerate rural coverage, Mr. Oettinger should rather open the spectrum to citizen use and stop reducing publicly-run systems to unprofitable activities.

Günther Oettinger, Digital Commissioner
Günther Oettinger,
European Commissioner
for Digital Economy and Society

To implicitely weigh a fast Internet against a neutral internet by stating that what prevails are hasty (understated, no matter what the conditions) investments for network access is a fools game. By taking that position, Mr. Oettinger simply joins the brutal investment blackmail of American Telcos in reaction to Barack Obama’s statement in favor of Net Neutrality. Their reaction against a position favourable to Net Neutrality is the expression of their will to dictate the implementation of market rules favorable to them but oblivious to the respect of loyal and open competition.

While La Quadrature du Net fights daily for the affirmation of this principle in order to protect the interest of all those who are acting on internet – whether big or small companies, individuals or organisation – Mr. Oettinger has made it clear that, according to him, the concept of competition has nothing to do with maintaining and defending an open digital economy. Neutrality and end-user choice are not only the possibility of changing from one to another operator (that Mr. Oettinger seems to imply), but the possibility to access all services available on internet in fair conditions. It is not surprising that the telco industry would be so short sighted in terms of competition and consumer free choice and that only recalls the positions of Neelie Kroes, predecessor of Oettinger, that had repeatedly taken positions in favor of the mightiest operators. But it most regrettable for those to be the sole inspirations of Mr. Oettinger’s first public declarations on the subject.

Besides, Mr. Oettinger’s position is just as hypocritical and dangerous as the trap of “platform neutrality” concept that has been sprouting these last months leading to believe that Net Neutrality can not be defined without solving the problem of Internet giants monopoly and fiscality.

“The implementation of a two speed internet would alter its very essence as knowledge sharing space and democratic expression tool. Far from justifying the crippling of Net Neutrality, the goal of giving to all the means to fully benefit from the digital era requires on the contrary to push for a neutral and free Internet” declares Miriam Artino in charge of legal and political analysis for La Quadrature du Net.

“These strategies to avoid the fundamental right to a free and open internet do not fool La Quadrature du Net. We will continue to motivate European citizens to their absolute right to an Internet that respects them and leaves them the freedom to choose, innovate and inform. That Mr. Oettinger’s first declaration attempts to drown Net Neutrality with side problematics reveals a poor understanding of the subject and a stance devoted to the interests of operators. Citizens must help him to remember the April 2014 vote of the European Members of Parliament” concludes Adrienne Charmet, Campaign Coordinator for La Quadrature du Net.