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RespectMyNet: Internet Restrictions on the Table of EU Regulators

Paris, November 30th, 2011 – La Quadrature du Net met with European body of telecommunications regulators, BEREC, which is currently listing Internet access restrictions imposed by telecoms operators across the EU, as requested by the EU Commission. Thanks to the RespectMyNet.eu platform and thanks to the participation of citizens from all over Europe in unveiling these harmful practices, BEREC cannot ignore any longer the widespread access restrictions which undermine freedom of communication, privacy, as well as competition and innovation online. By further contributing to RespectMyNet, citizens can help increase pressure on the Commission to legislate on Net neutrality.

Last Spring, EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes said that it was urgent to wait on Net neutrality1 and asked the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC2) to conduct a fact-finding exercise regarding ongoing access restrictions imposed by Internet Service Providers across the EU. A few days ago, the EU Parliament increased the pressure on BEREC and the Commission to act, by adopting a resolution calling on them to protect Net neutrality and to “assess the need for further regulation” once BEREC concludes its study3.

Thus, BEREC's ongoing work on Internet access restrictions – which is expected to be released in February 2012 – will be crucial for the future of Net neutrality. If the study shows widespread violations of Net neutrality, the Commission will have no other choice but to propose EU-wide regulation to enforce this founding principle of the Internet. On the contrary, lack of sound evidence regarding ongoing restrictions will favour telecoms operators, like AT&T and others, who for the past two years have relentlessly lobbied against any measure to protect rights and freedoms online and the digital economy4.

La Quadrature du Net met with BEREC last week to make it clear that the evidence on the RespectMyNet.eu platform5 already provides BEREC with an input they cannot overlook. Representatives from BEREC confirmed they would use the reports from the citizen platform as useful input for their study. Still, as BEREC will soon be concluding its research on Internet access restrictions and discriminatory practices, citizens across Europe must continue to take part in this debate by reporting and confirming Net neutrality violations on RespectMyNet.eu.

“Whether it is throttling of certain protocols, port blocking or even application blocking, Internet access restrictions reported on RespectMyNet.eu already show the need for regulatory intervention to make operators respect Net neutrality. BEREC cannot but recognise these widespread access restrictions imposed by telecoms operators. But there is still work to be done to get the situation's full picture. By helping BEREC list restrictions through RespectMyNet, citizens will help break away with Commissioner Neelie Kroes' failed ‘wait-and-see’ approach. Everybody can help shape the debate by testing their landline or wireless Internet connections and adding and confirming reports. Neelie Kroes won't be able to ignore much longer the need for resolute legislative action.”, said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.