Activists Pan EU Net Neutrality Proposal

Net neutrality activists and some computer companies are warning the European Union that proposed network neutrality regs there—slated for a vote Tuesday in the European Parliament—are insufficient to protect an open internet.

In a letter, companies including Etsy, Kickstarter, Netflix, Reddit, and Tumblr, pointed out what they said were major flaws in the proposal, including a carve-out for specialized services they say create Internet fast-lanes and allows zero-rating plans, in which carriers exclude some applications froma customer's data usage totals.

Also criticizing the EU plan are Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press, and the Future of Music Coalition, the same groups that fought for the Title II-based approach to net neutrality rules the FCC adopted.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation also opposes the compromise EU regulations. While it says that on its face, the draft sounds promising, saying that "When providing internet access services, providers of those services should treat all traffic equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender or receiver, content, application or service, or terminal equipment."

But it says the devil is in the details, including the specialized services exception, which it says is not narrow enough, though it does now no longer allow general Internet access to be impacted by those specialized services.

EFF also does not like the congestion management prioritization language that allows ISPs to prioritize traffic based on specific categories of traffic.

EFF says it is OK, for example, for a customer to elect to prioritize their own VoIP traffic over P2P traffic, but not over their neighbor's P2P traffic.

EFF also points out that if passed Tuesday, the new EU network neutrality regulations take effect immediately.

The American Cable Association said it was monitoring the situation.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.