European Parliament adopts ?net neutrality law? to refrain telecoms from unfair traffic treatment

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The European Parliament has adopted ?net neutrality law? refraining internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to some kinds of traffic.

Under the adopted law which was originally proposed by European Commission?s digital agenda chief Neelie Kroes, ?net neutrality? was given a strong definition that will force internet providers to treat all traffic equally without discrimination regardless of its source.

The law reads, ?The principle of “net neutrality” means that traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independent of the sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application.?

The law was adopted based on the report of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) on traffic management practices on the functioning of the market of internet access and provision from a consumer perspective. The report showed that a significant number of end-users are affected by traffic management practices which block or slow down specific applications.

?These tendencies require clear rules at the Union level to maintain the open internet and to avoid fragmentation of the single market resulting from individual Member States’ measures,? the lawmakers said.

With a historic vote of 534-25, Neelie Kroes on her official Twitter account posted:

@NeelieKroesEU: Couldn’t be happier!! Great result in EU Parl in favour of #ConnectedContinent !!
#roaming #netneutrality

Furthermore, Amelia Anderdotter, Swedish member of the European Parliament (MEP) who leads up the Pirate faction in the European Parliament, in a statement said:

?Thankfully, a majority of MEPs has seen sense today and voted to uphold the principle of net neutrality in the EU. The proposals by the Commission, which would essentially have given large providers the all-clear for discriminating against users as they see fit, have been revised. Today?s vote would explicitly provide for net neutrality and will hopefully ensure a level playing field for all online services and users, providing for a more open internet environment in which innovation is encouraged.?

The adopted law seeks to also forbid internet providers from blocking voice and messaging services such as Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s WhatsApp. Also, the law will ban (within the European Union) the “roaming” charges that mobile phone users pay when travelling in other countries by 2016.

However, while this is a ?great news? of the end users, telecommunications companies warned the consequences it would bring if this would be enacted to all European countries.

GSM Association, an industry group for mobile phone companies in a statement said, “Europe’s telecoms operators are facing decreasing revenues compared with operators in the U.S. and Asia.?

Moreover, European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) chaired by Luigi Gambardella said, ?The Parliamentary vote on the Connected Continent a step in the wrong direction. If the restrictive changes to the Open Internet provisions are confirmed in the final text, the access of European citizens and businesses to innovative and high-quality services will be negatively affected. This would turn into a dangerous situation, in which the European digital economy will suffer and EU businesses will be put in a difficult competitive situation with respect to other regions of the world.?

ETNO also estimated that telecommunications companies will lose 7 billion Euros ($9.6 billion) in operating profit by 2020 if this would be implemented.

 

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