Urge the EU Parliament to Stand For Net Neutrality

The EU Parliament just started discussing a resolution and oral question to the Commission on Net Neutrality. Make your voice heard to ensure that your EU representatives make a strong commitment for a free and open Internet against pressure from the telecoms industry.

Network Neutrality —understood as the principle of non-discrimination between online communications— is the foundation for the democratic and socio-economic benefits of the Internet. However, Net Neutrality is under the threat of dominant telecom operators who want to develop new business models based on the control of their users' communications.

Although some national lawmakers are keen on addressing the issue, the EU Commission is in a position of complete denial. In fact, Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes seems ready to let telecom operators discriminate Internet traffic, officially sticking to a wait-and-see approach as evidenced by her extremely disappointing report on the matter.

The EU must act now before telcos kill the Internet as we know it. It is of the utmost importance that the Members of the EU Parliament —the EU's only democratic institution— make their voice heard in this crucial debate. They must commit to the adoption of an EU-wide Net Neutrality law that will ensure the Internet remains open to all. So far, the draft resolution and oral question discussed last week by the EU Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) are weak, and play into the hands of telecom operators, who are lobbying hard to make it worse. Every EU citizen can help counter their noxious influence.

Write to your MEPs!

Get in touch with the European Members of Parliament by phone or e-mail to urge them to take resolute action1 in favour of a free and open Internet.

Below is our letter sent to the committee on September 7th.

Dear member of the ITRE committee,

On Thursday and in the following weeks, your Committee will be discussing an important resolution on Net neutrality.

Through this resolution, we urge you to take a strong stance in favour of the openness of the Internet, the socioeconomic and democratic benefits of which directly depend on the founding principle of network neutrality. Net neutrality ensures that network operators do not discriminate the different data streams flowing through their network.

In the past months, several EU telecoms operators2 have made it clear that they are seeking to develop new business models based on discriminating online communications.

Yet, any violation of Net neutrality would:

  • Stifle competition and innovation in the digital economy, by granting privileged traffic conditions to the richest online content providers;
  • Undermine the freedom of communication enjoyed by Internet users, by handing over the users' power to decide how different data streams are transported to the operators;
  • Harm equal user participation in the online public sphere, by favouring users who can afford to pay for high-quality access and priority on the network, at the expense of all other users.
  • Put investments in fibre-based infrastructures in jeopardy, letting operators use network saturation to their advantage by profiting from the scarcity in bandwidth and offering premium offers rather than investing in fibre;

Commissioner Neelie Kroes appears increasingly keen3 to give in to the telecoms operators' demands to allow business models based on network discrimination. Like lawmakers in the Netherlands4 and in France5, the EU Parliament must enforce the Net neutrality principle and:

  • Acknowledge the looming threats on Net neutrality in Europe and their risk for innovation, competition and freedoms online;
  • Recognize the inadequacy of the provisions of the 2009 Telecoms Package to protect Net neutrality. Neither Minimal Quality of Service nor Transparency are sufficient tools to address this pressing issue.
  • Call on the Commission and Council to support the adoption of a EU-wide legislation on Net neutrality which would ban discriminatory traffic management practices and create sanctions against violations of this principle.

You can find in-depth information and recommendations in our response to the Commission's consultation on Net neutrality: http://laquadrature.net/NetNeutralityQuestionnaire

Sincerely yours,

La Quadrature du Net.