EU Net Neutrality Guideline Debate Draws Crowd

It wasn't quite the four million comments the FCC received on its Open Internet proceeding, but according to the Save the Internet coalition, which was also a part of that FCC comment flood, more than 500,000 people weighed in on the EU's proposed guidelines via the coalition's and other websites.

The comment period closed July 18 on guidelines on implementing and applying EU net neutrality law, which the European Parliament adopted last fall and have already started applying. The law essentially "enshrines" net neutrality principles of no blocking or throttling of online content, applications and services, but the EU is now trying to come up with guidelines for applying it across its divergent membership.

Those weighing in include World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who fronted an open letter seeking strong regs similar to the FCC's.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), in cooperation with the European Commission will issue guidelines so that national regulatory authorities in EU member countries can apply the regs consistently, providing a common benchmark to judge commercial agreements and practices, including specialized services. The guidelines will inter alia allow NRAs to assess agreements and commercial practices and ''specialized services'' for net neutrality violations and apply consistent decisions and enforcement.

It is a tall order, and High Tech Forum founder Richard Bennett thinks BEREC will have a hard time filling it.

"The consultation [on guidelines] is, quite frankly, a mess," he blogged. "The basic problem that regulators all over the world have with net neutrality is to decode what the term means by picking it apart and then to pick and choose among the parts for elements that have political appeal without being too damaging to the Internet."

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.