[radiobruxelleslibera] The freedom not to have Internet: the European reform of net neutrality

The fundamental paradigm of net neutrality may change soon in Europe. The well-expected Single Market Reform of Commissioner Kroes, due to be announced on September 11, 2013, will likely contain provisions on net neutrality which may substantially affect the balance between network operators and Internet service providers respectively, with a substantial impact over consumers. In the Commission’s formal intention, this reform will “introduce net neutrality”. The reality appears quite different however. [...]

Now, if the Kroes reform becomes law, the Dutch and Slovenian legislation on net neutrality will be outlawed and no national Parliament will be able to intervene again in such field, because they would contravene a European regulation. [...]

Fact is, all the rights allocated to consumers already existed thank to the 2009 framework [...]. In addition, the wording of the draft regulation is a bit misleading, because the term “freedom” (“end-users have the freedom of such and such ..”) instead of “rights”, does not mean very much in legal terms. In practice, only network providers and ISPs are free, because it’s up to them to make the Internet access offers they like, while the consumers only have the “freedom” to accept such offers or not. Since this reform is (implicitly) authorizing network providers to limit or cancel best-effort Internet, as well as to charge Internet services arbitrarily and unilaterally, then the freedom granted to consumers will finally result in just the freedom to have Internet (at the unfavorable conditions indicated above) or not. At the very end, this is the freedom not to have Internet. [...]