European Commission and Net-Neutrality

Yesterday the Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, gave a speech titled "The EU, safeguarding the open internet for all" setting out her vision for net-neutrality.

In her speech she stated;

"Openness and liberty are values I am determined to defend everywhere... The Arab Spring showed us the power of the internet. So I am determined to support and champion that network. A network that is open and unified, and delivering democratic values. Across the world, and here in Europe"

It was reassuring to hear her say;

"The approach needs to follow not from ideology, but from an understanding of how that particular network actually operates"

Implying that this complex issues will be looked into with depth and debate amongst experts. It is expected that the commission will publish new guidelines in July with the aim of getting all member states to sign it off by October 2013, then hopefully with commission and EU parliament approval by mid 2014. If all goes well the laws could be in place by early 2015.

Europe isn't always known for passing the most intelligent of rules, such as the EU cookie directive, which was an ill thought-out and rushed piece of legislation. But rules such as this move us closer to a single telecoms market across Europe - something that will benefit the UK immensely.

Back in 2012 BEREC, the European group of national Internet regulators, published a report claiming that between 20% and 50% of ISPs in Europe block or restrict access to websites and services run by rival companies. Throttling, where an ISP deliberately slows down the connection to a targeted site, was identified as the most common restriction - a well used tactic by ISPs here in the UK.

This is something that OFCOM have been been dragging their heels on for the past few years, and with only two states within Europe that actually have legislation on net-neutrality; Slovenia and the Netherlands, makes this a very welcoming move.

So, you may not have heard of Neelie Kroes to date, but she should now become one of your favourite Politicians. Not only is she driving this, but is also pushing for '5g' to be pioneered in Europe, abolishing roaming charges and driving down mobile data costs.

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