Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

February 18 2014

EU Parliament Negotiations on Net Neutrality Taking a Disastrous Turn

Paris, 18 February 2014 — On 24 February, the “Industry” (ITRE) committee of the European Parliament will take a crucial decision for the future of Net Neutrality in Europe, by adopting its report, on the basis of which the whole Parliament will vote. As things currently stand, Members of the European Parliament in ITRE still have the possibility to ensure a genuine and unconditional Net Neutrality principle, as proposed by others committees, so as to protect freedom of expression and online innovation. But instead, all might be lost because the liberal (ALDE) and socio-democrat (S&D) political groups seem ready to adopt the disastrous proposals made by Pilar Del Castillo Vera, the lead rapporteur in charge of this dossier. Unless citizens act and key MEPs show political leadership, we may be about to lose the Internet as we know it.

Pilar Del Castillo Vera and Neelie Kroes
Pilar Del Castillo Vera and Neelie Kroes

On 24 February, the “Industry” (ITRE) committee will vote on its final report on Kroes' anti-Net Neutrality proposal.

As demonstrated by the “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) committee's vote last week, MEPs have the opportunity to implement effective safeguards to protect Net Neutrality by correcting the huge loopholes of the text.

But in the ITRE committee, the negotiations behind closed doors between political groups on so-called "compromise amendments" have taken an extremeley worrying turn, as the principle of Net Neutrality is being turned upside down to please the telcos. Current versions of compromise amendments (commented by La Quadrature du Net) would allow telecom operators to:

  • degrade certain types of traffic (e.g. peer-to-peer) while letting other types of traffic enjoy a normal delivery1;
  • make deals with Internet services (e.g. YouTube or Netflix) to grant them priorised delivery through so-called specialised services2.

Currently, only the centrist/liberal (ALDE) and socio-democrat (S&D) groups, led respectively by Jens Rohde (DK - ALDE) and Catherine Trautmann (FR - S&D), are in the position to oppose the rapporteur and positively influence the outcome of next week's ITRE vote. It seems however that Mrs. Trautmann does not firmly endorse the positions adopted in the LIBE committee, and could be ready to accept the rapporteur's compromise amendments even though they fail to protect Net Neutrality. Only in this way can they ensure that ITRE will propose to the EU Parliament to adopt a meaningful protection of Net Neutrality.

In the coming days, it is urgent and imperative for European citizens to get involved and urge these MEPs to protect the public interest by following the opinion of the “Civil Liberties” committee rather than the dangerous position of rapporteur Pilar Del Castillo. The vote on the final ITRE report will take place on Monday, 24 February at the EU Parliament in Strasburg, France.

“In these ongoing secret negotiations, lead MEPs in charge of this dossier are about to give up on Net Neutrality, letting big corporations discriminate our Internet communications and dominate the digital economy. In the coming days, European representatives who really care for the Internet commons will have to show leadership, by pushing for a real definition of Net Neutrality and making sure that it is not bypassed through so-called ''specialised services"”, says Félix Tréguer, cofounder of the association La Quadrature du Net.

“On 24 February, we have a unique opportunity to move toward the establishment of a genuine and unconditional Net Neutrality in Europe, but citizen participation is urgently needed. The ACTA vote showed that MEPs could be influenced by a broad citizen mobilisation. It is still the case today, especially with the upcoming European elections, concludes Yoann Spicher, campaign coordinator at La Quadrature du Net.

Every European citizen can act to influence the evolution of Net Neutrality by calling on their MEPs to establish solid protections of the free Internet. To get on board, please visit the campaign website savetheinternet.eu.

Act now!

  • 1. Rapporteur Del Castillo shamelessly proposes in recital 45 that Net Neutrality be defined as the principle according to which only equivalent traffic be treated equally, allowing for different quality of service for e.g. video traffic and VOIP traffic. In many other policy arenas, it is well understood and consensusal that Net Neutrality implies that all types of traffic are treated equally, as specified in the LIBE's opinion report
  • 2. By refusing to ban the delivery of specialised services for Internet services (or services "functionally identical" to such services) (a ban recommended by the LIBE report), articles 2.15 and 23.2 as proposed in ITRE open the door to the priorisation of Internet services in a way which would completely bypass the Net Neutrality principle and undermine fair competition in the digital economy.
    Priorisation of Internet services or functionally identical services demands much more in-depth analysis before it should even be considered to be authorised by law, as it entails serious threats to innovation and fair competition in the digital economy. After the adoption of the regulation that must ban such priorisation, a debate should be held to define strong and detailed legal and technical non-discrimination safeguards to ensure that any content or service provider can benefit from such priorisation, free of discrimination, at reasonable rates and subject to reasonable terms and conditions. Such safeguard should be much clearer that the vague non-discrimination principle at the end of article 23.2. For instance, safeguards should include prior authorisation by National Regulatory Authorities (NRA) of classes of specialised services, with strong presumption against specialised services raising anti-competitive risk to Internet services; prior registration, transparence and careful assessment of any specialised services activated by providers of electronic communication; technical framework regarding interconnection and admission control, etc.).
    Such a public debate should include SMEs, civil society organisations, and NRAs, who were not consulted on this specific issue.
    Note that existing specialised services, e.g. for VoIP and TVoIP, are not “functionally identical” to best-effort Internet VoIP (e.g. Skype) or streamed TV programmes, and would not be hampered by LQDN's proposed version of articles 2.15 and 23.2.

February 12 2014

EU Parliament Civil Liberties Committee Paves the Way for Real Net Neutrality

Brussels, 12 February 2014 — Today, the “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) committee of the European Parliament adopted its opinion report on the European single market for electronic communications. Key amendments were adopted which, if included in the final text, would guarantee that network neutrality becomes an enforceable rule across all of the European Union. La Quadrature du Net warns against attempts in the Industry committee (ITRE), the lead committee on this dossier, to adopt watered-down amendments that would allow telecommunication operators to distribute specialised services in a way that would radically undermine freedom of communication and innovation on the Internet.

Thanks to amendments tabled by the Greens, S&D and ALDE groups, solid formulations of key articles 2(15)1 and 232 and their related recitals, as well as provisions on specialised services and those that ensure enforcement of Net neutrality are now included in the report of the Civil Liberties (LIBE) committee. The PPE rapporteur, Salvador Sedó i Alabart (ES - EPP), himself supported some useful provisions. La Quadrature du Net thanks all Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) who contributed to this vote.

The text adopted must now become the reference for the remaining of the legislative process, especially for the ITRE committee which will make the final recommendations to the rest of the Parliament on this dossier. However, severe concerns remain regarding the outcome of the vote in the ITRE committee. The lead rapporteur, Mrs. Pilar del Castillo Vera (ES - EPP), is proposing compromise amendments that are scandalously open to abuse by telecommunication operators. What is more, these amendments totally ignore the substance of the better amendments tabled by other ITRE MEPs – including members of her own political group3. Lastly, they are in marked contradiction with the important amendments approved in the LIBE committee today, that would ensure that the regulation protects fundamental rights.

It is worrying that at this stage, even the shadow rapporteurs of political groups that support the good amendments, are extremely timid in their opposition to the rapporteur's position. Supporting del Castillo's compromise amendments means ignoring the interests and rights of European citizens and giving a blank check for telecom operators to engage in illegitimate discrimination in Internet communications. All shadow rapporteurs in the ITRE committee – Jens Rohde (DK - ALDE), Catherine Trautmann (FR - S&D), Amelia Andersdotter (SE - Greens/EFA), Giles Chichester (UK - ECR) – must therefore make their position public, so that they can be held accountable for the final ITRE report, which will be voted on 24 February. If they, or other members of their groups, refuse to listen to recommendations by MEPs of their own group in the LIBE committee, and adopt the weak or even anti-Net neutrality compromise amendments, European citizens will hold them accountable, especially in the upcoming European elections.

“European citizens must tell the members of the Industry committee that the only deserving approach is to reject Mrs. Pilar del Castillo Vera's so-called ''compromise amendments'' and that they should adopt the same amendments to articles 2(15) and 23 as in the LIBE committee. To preserve the Internet's contribution to innovation and freedom of communication, European law should clearly ban telecom operators from marketing specialised services that are functionally equivalent to online services delivered on the Internet, thereby bypassing Net neutrality” declares Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.

“Every vote will count on February 24th, when the Industry committee adopts its final report on the proposed regulation. We call on all of its members to reject the position of the rapporteur Pilar Del Castillo Vera and vote for the key amendments adopted by the Civil Liberties committee, which can ensure that fundamental rights as well as competition and innovation are protected on the open Internet”, concludes Miriam Artino, legal and policy analyst at La Quadrature du Net.

Every European citizen can act to influence the evolution of Net neutrality by calling on their MEPs to establish solid protections of the free Internet. To get on board, please visit the campaign website savetheinternet.eu.

Act now!

  • 1. Article 2(15): “"specialised service" means an electronic communications service or any other service that provides the capability to access specific content, applications or services, or a combination thereof, and whose technical characteristics are controlled from end-to-end or provides the capability to send or receive data to or from a determined number of parties or endpoints; and that is not marketed or widely used as a substitute for internet access service;”
  • 2. Article 23, on “Freedom to provide and avail of open internet access, and reasonable traffic management”
  • 3. See: http://edri.org/bad-leadership-kill-open-internet-europe/

February 06 2014

EU Parliament Will Soon Vote on the Fate of Net Neutrality in Europe

Paris, 6 February 2014 — In the coming days, committees of the European Parliament will decide the fate of Net neutrality in Europe. Ahead of European elections, our representatives cannot miss this opportunity to truly defend EU citizens' rights, protect communications online and thus guarantee freedom of expression and information throughout Europe.

In early September, the EU Commission adopted its anti-Net neutrality Regulation. The legislative process in the EU Parliament will soon take a crucial step, as the Industry (ITRE) committee – the leading committee responsible for this file – will vote on the final report on 24 February. In the meantime, next Wednesday, 12 February, the Civil Liberties (LIBE) committee will adopt its opinion report which will feed back into the debate in the ITRE committee. After these last two votes the fate of Net neutrality in Europe will almost be sealed. The next and final step of the parliamentary procedure being the vote in the EU Parliament plenary, currently scheduled for early April.

Unfortunately, the current political climate makes it hard to predict any outcome. On one hand, MEPs in support of Net neutrality propose to beef up this principle:

  • ensuring that traffic prioritisation will not result in anti-competitive deals between service providers and telecom operators
  • providing elements to enforce Net neutrality at the national and European levels.

On the other hand, other MEPs – in particular Pilar del Castillo Vera (ES - EPP), lead rapporteur on this dossier, and Jens Rohde (DN - ALDE), shadow rapporteur for the ALDE group – seek to spare the telecom lobbies and remain evasive on these important issues.

The main hope for the protection of the open Internet lies now with the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) since their shadow rapporteur, Catherine Trautmmann (FR - S&D) – contrary to the EPP and ALDE rapporteurs – has already driven her group towards the formulation of good proposals1. However, these proposals still leave serious voids and need to be improved. In particular, it is mandatory to avoid any anti-competitive practices – due to the introduction of specialised services – and clarify that no service already available on the Internet could be reproduced as a specialised service in a closed network. Speaking of which, it is encouraging to notice that some socialist MEPs, such as Françoise Castex (FR - S&D), have already tabled strong amendments in this respect. Moreover, Dimitrios Droutsas (GR - S&D) – in view of the LIBE opinion – has recently tabled amendments2 geared to eliminate those risks and thus reinforce his group's position. However, for these amendments to be useful, it is mandatory that the Socialist rapporteur defend them in the ITRE committee. Will Catherine Trautmann take up the challenge to seriously fight against anti-Net neutrality provisions and finally, respond to the concerns expressed by citizen advocacy groups?

“Neither the EU Commission nor the EU Parliament rapporteur Pilar Del Castillo have clearly formulated their stand on Net neutrality. For dubious reasons, they refuse to even address proposals made by citizen groups from all across Europe. As crucial votes on Net neutrality get closer, a broad citizen mobilisation can ensure that MEPs are held accountable for what they vote for, especially in light of upcoming European elections”, concludes Félix Tréguer, cofounder of the association La Quadrature du Net.

For more information, please read our last analysis here.

Every European citizen can act to influence the evolution of Net neutrality by calling on their MEPs to establish solid protections of the free Internet. To get on board, please visit the campaign website savetheinternet.eu.

Act now!

  • 1. She co-authored amendments on the creation of an enforcement mechanism to ensure a genuine Net neutrality (AD 678); the introduction of the freedom to connect any device to the network (AD 585); the insertion of a functional separation of specialised services from the open Internet (AD 360).
  • 2. AD LIBE 34, 54, 95

January 30 2014

EU Parliament Still Divided on the Issue of Net Neutrality

The proposal of the European Commission on Net neutrality is currently discussed within the European Parliament. Committees appointed for opinion have already expressed their point of view on this text – except the Civil liberties (LIBE) committee, whose report will be voted on February 12th.

Opinion Reports bring potential improvements

Since last summer, La Quadrature du Net and others have expressed several doubts and concerns on the proposal of the European Commission.

In order to fill those legal voids, on December 2013, La Quadrature du Net proposed a batch of amendments, whose main goal was to help Members of the European Parliament to:

  • follow the BEREC guidelines for Quality of Service in the scope of Net neutrality, clarifying specialised services have to be operated within closed electronic communications networks;
  • stress that a specialised service shall not reiterate a service functionally identical to a service already available on the open Internet, in order not to circumvent Net neutrality and boost innovation in the digital economy;
  • better define the nature of a reasonable traffic management practice;
  • cover the freedom to connect any devices to the network;
  • endow regulatory authorities with legal instruments geared to: monitor and report on Internet traffic management measures; put in place clear procedures to address citizens’complaints on the infringement of Net neutrality; be in capacity to sanction Net neutrality breaches.

The outcomes of this first "round of voting" open a window on the future and crucial steps of the procedure. Committees appointed for opinions have indeed proposed some improvements to the original text of the European Commission such as the deletion of article 19 on Assured Quality of Services products1, the introduction of an enforcement mechanism or the deletion of "serious crime" as a condition for the implementation of any traffic management measure.

However, it remains to be seen whether Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee will accept to take these opinions into account when its own report – directed to influence the final position of the European Parliament as a whole – will be adopted on February 24th. In any case, on specialised services and the definition of Net neutrality, which are crucial aspects of any Net neutrality legislation, much remains to be done.

Key aspects of Net neutrality still missing

The last week vote in Internal Market (IMCO) committee demonstrates how the Net neutrality principle is still in danger. For example, the definition of specialised services therein adopted, is very far from being satisfactory2: the compromise reached does not clarify indeed that the dividing line between a specialised service and an internet access service is whether or not that service is operated within closed network and is already available over the open Internet. Furthermore the provision aimed at “deploying traffic management to ensure the appropriate level of network capacity and quality”, if maintained, will de facto become a gaping loophole in the Regulation, allowing providers to discriminate on the basis of contents.

The same kind of approach on specialised services has been adopted in Legal Affairs (JURI) committee, where the amendment carried also opens the doors to anti-competitive practices3. The Members of the European Parliament have to be aware that refusing to complete the definition of specialised services would mean to definitely compromise the free choice of Internet users and their wonderful potential of creativity and innovation4.

Furthermore, JURI committee rejected the excellent amendment 615, tabled by Marietje Schaake (NL - ALDE) and Cecilia Wikström (SE - ALDE), pleading for a reinforcement of the Net neutrality principle, by protecting the right of every single user to connect any hardware device to access the Internet.

Del Castillo and Rohde against everyone else?

On February 24th, the text will be voted in ITRE committee, responsible for the file; the report adopted at that time will be thereafter submitted to the whole European Parliament, during the last plenary sitting of this legislation, currently scheduled for April 2nd. Unluckily, this committee raises several concerns.

First of all, the rapporteur, Pilar del Castillo Vera (ES - EPP), has refused, since the beginning of the decision-making process, to introduce or promote amendments guaranteeing a true protection of Net neutrality. Although she is wary of clearly displaying her opposition to a definition of specialised services BEREC-oriented, her public statements plead in favour of “an inclusive approach” supposed to guarantee the fruition of an open Internet. But what does she mean exactly? Why a stricter definition of specialised services could harm any player's possibility to navigate and benefit of an open Internet? Why a greater guarantee for European citizens to benefit of their right to communicate without interferences would challenge the existence of an open Internet? Why does she not have the political bravery to state that Net neutrality is not something she cares about, as potentially problematic for telecom giants? At least, it would be more clear and honest for her constituency.

Secondly, Jens Rohde (DK - ALDE), shadow rapporteur for the ALDE group, did not even make the effort to table amendments on those critical subjects and he did nothing but state to share Pilar del Castillo Vera’s positions. This passive attitude is quite deplorable; all the more so as there is considerable number of dissenting voices within his group. Excellent amendments have been tabled in various committees by his fellow party members Sophia in 't Veld (NL - ALDE), Marietje Schaake, Cecilia Wikström, Nadja Hirsch (DE - ALDE), Alexander Alvaro (DE - ALDE), who genuinely defend and reinforce the Net neutrality principle. These voices cannot go unheeded.

The fate of Net neutrality in the hands of socio-democrats?

However, the Net neutrality fringe within the ALDE group is not the only one in the European Parliament. Aside the excellent work made by the Greens – headed by their shadow rapporteur Amelia Andersdotter (SE - Greens/EFA) – we also observed good inputs coming from socialists, headed by Mrs. Catherine Trautmann (FR - S&D), as shadow rapporteur for her group, and Dimitrios Droutsas (GR - S&D), as Vice-president of ITRE committee.

As Mrs. Herczog (HU - S&D) recently stated speaking on behalf of Catherine Trautmann, the Socialists seem to attach a great importance to a clearer definition of specialised services. Unluckily, even if the amendment 3606 – cosigned by Trautmann, Madurell (ES - S&D), Droutsas and Herczog – goes in the right direction, it really needs to be improved in order to prevent that a service functionally identical to another available on the open Internet could be commercialised. This provision is essential to guarantee a fair competition and innovation within the European single market for electronic communications and create all guarantees necessary to a genuine implementation of the Net neutrality principle.

Mrs. Trautmann, as the person with the most authority for her role, competence and experience on this kind of issues, is the only one in capacity to fight against the anti-Net neutrality and anti-competitive positions existing within ITRE committee. And she can do it, all the more so as her colleague Dimitrios Droutsas, with who she signed the insufficient amendment 360 on the definition of specialised services, realised the importance of a further clarification on that field. As a matter of fact, in view of the adoption of LIBE opinion, Mr. Droutsas later tabled the amendment 547, which includes civil society suggestions and clearly addresses the anti-competitive risk raised by specialised services. Let's hope Droutsas' input, with the unconditional support of Mrs. Trautmann, can become the firm and official position of the S&D group as a whole, in order to have a powerful counterbalance to the unacceptable positions entrenched so far by Pilar del Castillo Vera, and endorsed by Jens Rohde.

In the wake of the civil society organisations' calls and the amount of amendments tabled in defence of Net neutrality, it would be completely unacceptable if the members of ITRE committee were to capitulate in the face of the telecom lobby. The European Parliament must bring comprehensive protections to Net neutrality, so as to protect freedom of expression and promote innovation in the digital economy.

Next four weeks will thereby determine the fate of Net neutrality in Europe; every European citizen can act and have an actual influence on the evolution of this file, by getting in touch with their MEPs and calling on them to bring comprehensive protections to the free Internet. To get on board, please visit the campaign website savetheinternet.eu.

By Miriam Artino, in charge of legal and political analysis for La Quadrature du Net

  • 1. The article deleted reads:
    “1. Any operator shall have the right to provide a European ASQ connectivity product as specified in paragraph 4.
    2. Any operator shall meet any reasonable request to provide a European ASQ connectivity product as specified in paragraph 4 submitted in writing by an authorised provider of electronic communications services. Any refusal to provide a European ASQ product shall be based on objective criteria. The operator shall state the reasons for any refusal within one month from the written request. It shall be deemed to be an objective ground of refusal that the party requesting the supply of a European ASQ connectivity product is unable or unwilling to make available, whether within the Union or in third countries, a European ASQ connectivity product to the requested party on reasonable terms, if the latter so requests.
    3. Where the request is refused or agreement on specific terms and conditions, including price, has not been reached within two months from the written request, either party is entitled to refer the issue to the relevant national regulatory authority pursuant to Article 20 of Directive 2002/21/EC. In such a case, Article 3(6) of this Regulation may apply.
    4. The provision of a connectivity product shall be considered as the provision of a European ASQ connectivity product if it is supplied in accordance with the minimum parameters listed in Annex II and cumulatively meets the following substantive requirements:
    (a) ability to be offered as a high quality product anywhere in the Union;
    (b) enabling service providers to meet the needs of their end-users;
    (c) cost-effectiveness, taking into account existing solutions that may be provided on the same networks;
    (d) operational effectiveness, in particular in respect of limiting to the extent possible implementation obstacles and deployment costs for customers; and
    (e) ensuring that the rules on protection of privacy, personal data, security and integrity of networks and transparency in accordance with Union law are respected.
    5. The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 32 in order to adapt Annex II in light of market and technological developments, so as to continue to meet the substantive requirements listed in paragraph 4.”
  • 2. The amendment reads “'specialised service' means an electronic communications service, optimised for specific content, applications or services, or a combination thereof, by deploying traffic management to ensure the appropriate level of network capacity and quality, provided over logically distinct capacity and relying on strict admission control, with a view to securing enhanced quality characteristics which are controlled from end-to-end and that is not marketed or used as a substitute for internet access services”
  • 3. The amendment reads: “'specialised service' means an electronic communications service or any other service that are provided using the Internet Protocol and operated within closed electronic communications networks relying on admission control that provide the capability to access specific content, applications or services, or a combination thereof, based on extensive use of traffic management in order to ensure adequate service characteristics; and that is not marketed or widely used as a substitute for internet access service”
  • 4. After the adoption of the Regulation, a reflection could be launched to consider the possibility of allowing prioritization of Internet communications, as long as three main conditions are met: i) that such Quality of Service be application-agnostic (applied indiscriminately to different online services or applications); ii) that such Quality of Service be under the full control of the user so as to preserve the key architectural features of the Internet; iii) that the best-effort Internet be protected from degradation caused by the development of guaranteed QoS, for instance by ensuring a “sufficient quality of service” for the best-effort traffic delivery model (a notion already in use in some EU countries).
    On propositions for such positive discrimination and its relationship to Net neutrality, see the work of prof. Barbara van Schewick: https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2012/06/network-non-discrimination-and-quality-service
  • 5. The amendment reads: “End-users have the right to access and distribute information and content, run applications and use services or devices of their choice via their internet access service, in accordance with the principle of net neutrality.”
  • 6. The amendment reads: “‘specialised service’ means an electronic communications service or any other service that provides the capability to access or use specific content, applications or services, or a combination thereof, in order to ensure adequate characteristics from end-to-end. A specialised service is operated within closed electronic communications networks and thus clearly separated from internet access services and is not marketed or used as a substitute for internet access service”
  • 7. The amendment reads: “‘specialised service’ means an electronic communications service or any other service operated within closed electronic communications networks using the Internet Protocol with strict admission control that is not marketed or used as a substitute for internet access service; and that is not functionally identical to services available over the public internet”

January 15 2014

EU Parliament Committee on "Civil Liberties" Must Address Free Expression in Anti-Net Neutrality Proposal

Paris, 15 January 2014 — A few weeks before a crucial vote on the future European Regulation on the Single Market of telecommunication in Civil Liberties (LIBE) committee, La Quadrature du Net just sent the following email to all the Member of this committee, inviting them to propose strong amendments in favor of fundamental rights to the lead committee on this dossier, the Industry (ITRE) committee.

Citizens interested in taking part in the EU-wide campaign in favor of Net neutrality and freedoms online should visit the website savetheinternet.eu, and contact their representatives to urge them to protect this fundamental principle.

Dear Member of the LIBE committee,

The proposal of the European Commission 2013(627) final on the European Single Market for electronic communications will be voted next month in ITRE, the responsible committee of the file.

At this stage, five committees – LIBE included – are working on draft opinion.

On December 10th, Mr. Salvador Sedò i Alarbart, the rapporteur appointed in LIBE committee, presented his draft opinion.

La Quadrature du Net welcomes the amendment proposed by Mr. Sedò i Alarbart since they generally protect rights to privacy and personal data, as well as the confidentiality of communication, essential prerequisites for the development of an open Internet respectful of fundamental rights. However, these undeniable improvements – needing though some adjustments as explained in the document linked below – are not sufficient to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the European citizens on Internet.

In particular, no amendment has been tabled on specialised services, which represent the most important loophole of the Regulation and endanger freedom of expression as well as innovation online.

On January the 16th you will be called to table amendments on Mr. Sedò i Alabart opinion. As a member of the LIBE committee you owe the duty and the responsibility to defend the rights and freedoms of the European citizens, as a whole.

To that purpose La Quadrature du Net suggests that you:

We trust that you will remain committed to protecting the Internet commons from the harmful business logics, and remain at your entire disposal for any clarification you may need.

Sincerely,

La Quadrature du Net

January 14 2014

SaveTheInternet.eu: Act Now For Net Neutrality!

Paris, 14 January 2014 — A few weeks before crucial steps on the future European Regulation on the Single Market of telecommunication, a coalition of European organisations released the following joint press calling citizens to make their voices heard and to urge their MEPs to protect Net neutrality.

Net neutrality campaign – SaveTheInternet.eu

A broad coalition of civil Liberties NGOs launched SaveTheInternet.eu, a campaign to protect Net neutrality in upcoming EU legislation. A recent proposal from the European Commission will restrict freedom of speech on the Internet, increase prices and stifle online innovation unless urgent action is taken. Citizens should contact parliamentarians in the European Parliament's Industry Committee and urge them to defend the open Internet.

After four years during which no action was taken to protect the open Internet, the Commission's new proposals would achieve the opposite result. The Regulation would allow Internet companies to arbitrarily interfere with Internet traffic, prioritising the services of cash rich online companies to the detriment of innovation and free speech. Some of the worst Net neutrality violations we have seen in Europe over the last years will become legal through loopholes in the proposed rules on so-called “specialised services”. What is more, the Commission's text would allow "voluntary" ad hoc policing and surveillance activities for Internet access providers - in clear breach of the European Union's own legal obligations.

There is unanimous criticism from NGOs on this Draft Regulation. Civil society groups are furious that the proposal does not reflect the balance of views presented to the Commission in the consultations held on the subject. Groups are also critical of the fact that the measure is now being rushed through the legislative process. Of biggest concern is the fact that big telecoms operators are being offered the chance to impose old, inefficient, expensive and outdated telephony business models on the currently efficient and cost-effective internet.

Citizens now need to weigh in this crucial debate for the future of the Internet. The Regulation is now in the hands of the European Parliament, who has a golden opportunity to correct the text's dangerous loopholes and introduce necessary safeguards to protect the open and neutral Internet.

Time is running out. The European Parliament's Industry Committee will adopt amendments to the draft Regulation on February 27th. In the next six weeks each and every European who cares about the Internet should contact members of the European Parliament to make their voices heard.

SaveTheInternet.eu is the website that offers all the tools and information one needs to do just that. It provides all necessary information about the Regulation, the process and the arguments against it. Through SaveTheInternet.eu, every citizen can then call their MEPs free of charge or send them an e-mail to urge them to amend the text and bring strong legal protections to fundamental rights and innovation on the Internet.

This campaign is carried out by:

December 13 2013

Net Neutrality's Fate in Europe in the Hands of a Few MEPs?

Paris, 14 December 2013 — A few days before the deadline for Members of the European Parliament to table amendments on the anti-Net neutrality Kroes' proposal, within the ITRE committee, La Quadrature du Net sent them out its own proposal of amendments. From now and until December 17th, citizens must contact their representatives and urge them to alter Neelie Kroes' proposal and ensure that European citizens can definitely benefit from a genuine and unconditional Net neutrality.

Support La Quadrature du Net!

Last Monday, Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP - Spain), rapporteur for the proposal of the Commission on the European Single Market for electronic communications, introduced her draft report before the members of the “Industry” (ITRE) committee. Until December 17th, Members of the European Parliament will be in capacity to table amendments and could concretely defend the freedoms of the European citizens and protect their electronic communications. Supposed to give the main orientations on the issue, the draft of the rapporteur will be ostensibly the basis for discussions within the ITRE committee and, consequently, within the whole EU Parliament, once the report will be voted in plenary sitting.

Since del Castillo's report proposes the very same heavily criticized1 anti-Net neutrality provisions contained in Neelie Kroes' proposal, the contribution of every single Member of the European Parliament by the end-date of December 17th, is increasingly necessary and strongly recommended. By now, the future of Net Neutrality in the European Union largely depends on the vote of the ITRE committee and the amendments its members will adopt next year, on February 27th: good amendments2 can lead to an EU-wide meaningful protection of Net neutrality. On the contrary, adopting industry-oriented amendments, will basically destroy this essential principle and deeply undermine altogether freedom of communication on the Internet, privacy, but also competition and innovation in digital economy.

Some MEPs appear to have heard the numerous criticisms expressed against Kroes' loopholes, as Catherine Trautmann (S&D - France) or Marietje Schaake (ALDE - Netherlands). Since they publicly announced3 their opposition to Kroes' proposal, they have the ethical obligation to prevent the adoption of its most dangerous provisions.

Until December 17th, citizens must act and urge their MEPs to table positive amendments, and to not just follow the insufficient suggestions made by the rapporteur. In particular, they must better specify the nature and the characteristics of specialised services and provide enforcement mechanisms so as to achieve a meaningful protection of Net neutrality, as suggested by La Quadrature du Net's proposal of amendments.

“Neelie Kroes and Del Castillo Vera's current proposals could jeopardize for decades the essential principle of Net neutrality. But if we can convince MEPs to table and adopt positive amendments fixing the main loopholes of the draft regulation, this could lead to a substantial progress of our freedom online as well as innovation in digital economy environment. For all those reasons, citizens must act now and urge MEPs to ensure a real and unconditional Net neutrality!” concluded Miriam Artino, in charge of legal and political analysis for La Quadrature du Net.

Act now!

As a citizen platform, La Quadrature du Net provides the PiPhone, a web tool allowing to call Members of the ITRE Committee free of charge:

Act now!

  • 1. As an example, the European Data Protection Supervisor stated in a press release published on November 15th that the Neelie Kroes' proposal devoids “of substance" the Net neutrality principle "because of the almost unlimited right of providers to manage Internet traffic”. Citizen organisations also widely criticized the proposal.
  • 2. Protecting the electronic communication of the European citizens means to guarantee a very solid Net neutrality principle. To that purpose it is highly necessary to clearly define what is a specialised services; provide enforcement mechanisms and strictly frame what is a reasonable traffic management practices.
  • 3. At the annual conference of the European Competitive Telecommunication Association, which took place in Brussels on December 3rd, Catherine Trautmann said she wants to improve the definition of specialised services and obligate the Internet access providers to develop their activities within their networks. Marietje Schaake also strongly criticized Kroes' proposal.
    Sources: https://www.laquadrature.net/fr/contexte-le-debat-sur-la-neutralite-du-n... [fr] - http://www.vieuws.eu/ict/net-neutrality-european-commission-proposal-may-stifle-innovation-argues-marietje-schaake-mep/

December 12 2013

Crucial Moment Ahead for Net Neutrality at the EU Parliament

On September 11th, the European Commission adopted an important legislative package geared to achieve the European Single Market of telecommunication and build thereby a connected continent.

Neelie Kroes and a kitten

Since this summer La Quadrature du Net and others have tried to raise attention to the threats contained in the proposal of the European Commission, especially concerning the protection of the Net neutrality principle, which the legislative proposal claims to defend in a deceiving manner1.

This dossier is now on the table of the European Parliament, which is forced to work and make decisions under the pressure of a very tight calendar, conditioned by the upcoming elections and the political need – for each MEP involved in the process – to conclude their mandate with, at least, an intermediary legislative act. Unluckily, this scenario is not favourable to an in-depth, analytical and widespread debate on the different and relevant aspects of the proposal, which is quite technical in nature.

Such a haste carries a high risk of disregard for the position of civil society organizations2, whose contribution would be absolutely crucial to reach a decision based not purely on economic interests, but also on the defense of the freedom and rights of European citizens.

Del Castillo Vera
Del Castillo Vera

Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP - Spain), Chair of the European Internet Foundation3 is the rapporteur appointed within the European Parliament on that file. Her draft report was considered during an extraordinary meeting of the “Industry” (ITRE) Committee, held in Strasbourg on December 9th. Unluckily, the choice of the French seat, instead of the Belgian one, to hold this important step of the procedure4, resulted de facto in a not-fully-transparent debate: no video has been distributed on the European Parliament website, which is apparently due to the absence of dedicated equipments in Strasbourg seat5.

In addition to the non-trivial dysfunctions observed in the process, we've already pointed out how the del Castillo's draft report disregards all the concerns voiced by civil society since last summer. The rapporteur's refusal to amend sensitive provisions – such as the definition of “specialised services” – would result de facto in inflicting a mortal blow to the Net neutrality principle.

Until next Tuesday, on December 17th, MEPs have the opportunity to table amendments on the proposal of the European Commission and guarantee that EU citizens will be able to exert their freedom of expression and information on the Net. As a citizen platform, La Quadrature du Net provides the PiPhone, a web tool allowing to call Members of the ITRE Committee free of charge, to urge them to include in the final report an uncompromising vision of Net neutrality.

Catherine Trautmann
Catherine Trautmann

We feel confident that, with the active support of the shadow rapporteurs, the proposal of the European Commission could be fixed in its critical points. In particular, we welcome Mrs Trautmann's (S&D - France) recent declarations at the annual conference of the European Competitive Telecommunication Association, which took place in Brussels on December 3rd. She said she wants to improve the definition of specialised services and obligate the Internet access providers to develop their activities within their networks.

There is good opportunity for this to become the position of the European Parliament. If not, the Net neutrality principle will be undermined and the morphology of our communications and the nature of the information we will be able to access and impart would radically change.

Support La Quadrature du Net!

Protecting and defending the Net neutrality principle means thereby allowing the Internet to actively contribute to the functioning of modern democracies and protect citizens against any sorts of discrimination and abuse. If the foundations of that principle are – even barely – compromised, private stakeholders will hamper the normal and natural functioning of the Internet commons – whose rules would be decided by commercial and business logics.

By Miriam Artino, in charge of legal and political analysis for La Quadrature du Net

  • 1. The proposal for a Regulation on the Telecom Package pretends to defend the Net neutrality principle by stating in its article 23.5 that “providers of Internet access services shall not restrict the freedoms [of communication] by blocking, slowing down, degrading or discriminating against specific content, applications or services”, but breaches this principle right before introducing it, allowing in its article 23.2 the provision of “specialised service […] with an enhanced quality of service" – that is to say services offering prioritization.
  • 2. In the public hearing on the Commission’s proposal organised within the “Industry” (ITRE) committee on November 28th, no representative of the civil society was among contributors.
  • 3. The European Internet Foundation brings together MEPs of various parties and experts representing often industry and technology interests.
  • 4. In the European decision-making process, the consideration of a report is a key moment, allowing citizens to understand what is the nature of the different positions an MEP will take on the file.
  • 5. This is the explanation the services of the European Parliament gave us when we called for more information on the reason why we were not able to access the debate online.

December 05 2013

Net Neutrality: EU Parliament Must Amend Kroes' Dangerous Proposal

Paris, 5 December 2013 – On Monday 9th December, the rapporteur Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP - Spain) will present to the “Industry” (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament her draft report on Neelie Kroes' proposal for a Regulation on the Telecom Package. Citizens must urge MEPs to amend this report in order to accurately define what qualifies as 'specialised services' with 'enhanced' quality of service, and ensure that the Regulation will guarantee a genuine and unconditional Net neutrality principle.

Neelie Kroes and a kitten

The proposal for a Regulation on the Telecom Package, issued by Neelie Kroes on September 11th despite vivid criticisms from both outside1 and inside the Commission2, pretends to defend the Net neutrality principle by stating in its article 23.5 that “providers of Internet access services shall not restrict the freedoms [of communication] by blocking, slowing down, degrading or discriminating against specific content, applications or services3.

Ironically, the proposal actually breaches this principle right before introducing it, allowing in its article 23.2 the provision of “specialised service [...] with an enhanced quality of service" – that is to say services offering prioritization. Although it might be acceptable to prioritize services on private networks as long as they do not unfairly compete with existing Internet services4, the proposal goes further and reuses this concept to extend it to the Internet as a whole. The Commission thereby aims to give control over such form of discrimination to Internet access providers and big content providers, allowing them to “enter into agreements with each other to transmit the related data volumes [...] with a defined quality of service or dedicated capacity5. Here, prioritization on the Internet would affect billions of communications, people and companies, and would only relies on commercial agreements between dominant actors of the digital economy. In the meantime, smaller new entrants and innovative players would not be able to enter into the same deals and would de facto be deprioritized. Freedom of communication on the Internet's end-to-end architecture would also be severely undermined.



Del Castillo Vera
Del Castillo Vera

The draft report which will be presented on Monday, December 9th by Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP - Spain) – rapporteur in ITRE, the Committee responsible – will propose the very same provisions, specifying even more clearly that “ the general quality of Internet access” may de facto lawfully be impaired on the basis of “the technology deployed, in order to ensure the delivery of the enhanced quality service6.

Citizens must urge MEPs to amend the draft regulation, in particular to better specify the nature and the characteristics of specialised services:

  • clarifying that a specialised service shall run within closed communications networks, e.g. separately from the Internet access service (according to the definition provided by telecom regulatory authorities);
  • and guaranteeing that any service functionally identical to services available over the public Internet cannot qualify for enhanced quality of service (so as to ensure the principle of Net neutrality is not bypassed through the development of specialized services).

MEPs must also better define Net neutrality (article 23.1) to cover the freedom to connect any hardware to the network (in particular servers so as to promote self-hosting which can play a key role in empowering citizens in relation to their Internet communications), and also set out effective enforcement procedures and sanctions against those who violate the crucial principle of Net neutrality.

“Neelie Kroes and the text's rapporteur at the EU Parliament are trying to legitimate prioritizations in favor of dominant Internet companies through an outrageous reversal of the concept of 'specialised services'. Discrimination of Internet services would severely undermine the decentralized architecture that has made the Internet work so well for the past decades. We cannot let telecom operators decide what information we can access and how we can access it without renouncing to the Internet's empowerment and potential for creativity and innovation. Citizens must contact their MEPs and urge them to properly define 'specialised services' so as to ensure that they take place on closed networks and do not unfairly compete with existing Internet services” concluded Félix Tréguer, cofounder of the association La Quadrature du Net.

Act now!

As a citizen platform, La Quadrature du Net provides the PiPhone, a web tool allowing to call Members of the ITRE Committee free of charge:

Act now!

  • 1. As an example, the European Data Protection Supervisor stated in a press release published on November 15th that the Neelie Kroes' proposal devoids “of substance" the Net neutrality principle "because of the almost unlimited right of providers to manage Internet traffic”. Citizen organisations also widely criticized the proposal.
  • 2. A leaked criticism of a draft by EU Commissioner Viviane Redding's services says for example “such limited possibilities of accessing Internet content and services of their choice would run counter to the stated objectives of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights”: http://www.edri.org/NN-negativeopinions
  • 3. Proposal for a Regulation on the single market for electronic communications, Article 23.5: “Within the limits of any contractually agreed data volumes or speeds for Internet access services, providers of Internet access services shall not restrict the freedoms provided for in paragraph 1 by blocking, slowing down, degrading or discriminating against specific content, applications or services, or specific classes thereof, except in cases where it is necessary to apply reasonable traffic management measures. Reasonable traffic management measures shall be transparent, non-discriminatory, proportionate and necessary to:
    a) implement a legislative provision or a court order, or prevent or impede serious crimes;
    b) preserve the integrity and security of the network, services provided via this network, and the end-users' terminals;
    c) prevent the transmission of unsolicited communications to end-users who have given their prior consent to such restrictive measures;
    d) minimise the effects of temporary or exceptional network congestion provided that equivalent types of traffic are treated equally.
  • 4. As for the priorization of existing Internet services, La Quadrature du Net takes the view that after the adoption of the Regulation, a reflection should be launched to consider the possibility of allowing priorization of Internet communications, as long as three main conditions are met:

  • that such Quality of Service be application-agnostic (applied indiscriminately to different online services or applications);
  • that such Quality of Service be under the full control of the user so as to preserve the key architectural features of the Internet;
  • that the best-effort Internet be protected from degradation caused by the development of guaranteed QoS, for instance by ensuring a “sufficient quality of service” for the best-effort traffic delivery model (a notion already in use in some EU countries).

  • 5. Proposal for a Regulation on the single market for electronic communications, Article 25.2:
    2. End-users shall also be free to agree with either providers of electronic communications to the public or with providers of content, applications and services on the provision of specialised services with an enhanced quality of service.
    In order to enable the provision of specialised services to end-users, providers of content, applications and services and providers of electronic communications to the public shall be free to enter into agreements with each other to transmit the related data volumes or traffic as specialised services with a defined quality of service or dedicated capacity. The provision of specialised services shall not impair in a recurring or continuous manner the general quality of Internet access services.
  • 6. Pilar del Castillo draft report on the proposal, amendment 103: “End-users shall also be free to agree with either providers of electronic communications to the public or with providers of content, applications and services on the provision of specialised services with an enhanced quality of service. Where such agreements are concluded with the provider of Internet access, that provider shall ensure that the enhanced quality service does not impair the general quality of Internet access, except as may be necessary taking into account the state of the art and technology deployed, in order to ensure the delivery of the enhanced quality service.” (added text is indicated in bold)
  • November 19 2013

    Will the EU Parliament Enable Discrimination Online or Uncompromising Net Neutrality?

    Paris, 19 November 2013 – The rapporteur Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP - Spain) has concluded her draft report on Neelie Kroes' proposal for a Regulation on the Telecom Package. Despite numerous criticisms1 made against the unacceptable anti-Net neutrality provisions in the proposal, del Castillo Vera has chosen not to correct them. Before it is too late, citizens must contact the rapporteur and Members of the ITRE committee, and urge them to ensure the European Parliament guarantees a genuine and unconditional Net neutrality principle.

    Neelie Kroes
    Neelie Kroes

    Neelie Kroes' draft telecom legislation, pretending to defend the Net neutrality principle, actually creates huge loopholes as the text explicitly allows undue commercial discrimination by way of prioritization2. Following its difficult adoption by the European Commission3, the proposal is now in the hands of the EU Parliament, in particular the “Industry” (ITRE) committee and its rapporteur Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP - Spain), who was appointed on October 10th. Despite criticisms, and especially the strong position taken by the EU privacy watchdog, the rapporteur is playing Neelie Kroes' game of faux Net neutrality instead of correcting the text's dangerous flaws. While her draft report propose to remove the nonsensical provision creating a dangerous legal framework for priorisation called for by big telcos4, she refuses to offer a true protection of Net neutrality against all forms of discrimination5.

    Furthermore, in spite of the complexity and the importance of the dossier, the rapporteur accepted to prepare her draft report in only one month, submitting to a rushed timetable6 completely unusual and dangerous for a legislative act pretending to achieve the European Telecoms Single Market7. Such a timetable – along with the parody of a public consultation the rapporteur opened for a few days – will result in the lack of in-depth examination of the amendments MEPs will table by December 17th and could lead to a disastrous final text.

    Del Castillo Vera
    Del Castillo Vera

    The rapporteur Pilar del Castillo Vera, by controlling such a procedure and further negotiating compromise amendments on the whole text, bears an immense responsibility. Either she will help enforcing Neelie Kroes' Anti-Net neutrality proposal amounting to allow discrimination of our communications, or she will play a major role in upholding a true Net neutrality protecting our freedoms online if she decides to bring meaningful protections against the abusive restrictions and discrimination of our communications by telecom operators.

    Under such circumstances, it is necessary for EU citizens to take part in this debate in order to avoid a rushed adoption of Neelie Kroes' anti-Net neutrality provisions. Citizens must contact Members of the ITRE committee, and urge them to include in the final report an uncompromising8 vision of Net neutrality, free from all form of discriminations, and protected by effective enforcement procedures and sanctions against those who violate this crucial principle.

    “If the EU Parliament lets Neelie Kroes' text go through without amending its Net neutrality provisions, the only beneficiaries will be the dominant telecom operators, at the expense of freedom of communication online and innovation in the digital economy. From now and until the final vote in plenary sitting, a few months before the European elections, citizens must contact Members of the ITRE committee and all concerned Members of the European Parliament9 and urge them to guarantee a true and unconditional Net neutrality, only way to guarantee our freedom of communication online.” concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

    Act now!

    As a citizen platform, La Quadrature du Net provides the PiPhone, a web tool allowing to call Members of the ITRE Committee free of charge:

    Act now !

    • 1. As an example, the European Data Protection Supervisor stated in a press release published on November 15th that the Neelie Kroes' proposal devoids “of substance" the Net neutrality principle "because of the almost unlimited right of providers to manage Internet traffic”. Citizen organisations also widely criticized the proposal.
    • 2. Article 23.2: "End-users shall also be free to agree with either providers of electronic communications to the public or with providers of content, applications and services on the provision of specialised services with an enhanced quality of service."
      An “enhanced quality of service” means a prioritization: a traffic management practice that, contrary to the traditional "best-effort" model, jeopardizes the equal treatment of all data circulating on Internet. It means that all that , what is not prioritized is being in practice de-prioritized.
    • 3. A leaked criticism of a draft by EU Commissioner Viviane Redding's services says for example “such limited possibilities of accessing Internet content and services of their choice would run counter to the stated objectives of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”: http://www.edri.org/NN-negativeopinions
    • 4. The Amendment 100 provides for the deletion of Chapter 3 – section 2, including the Article 19 on “Assured service quality” (ASQ).
    • 5. As an example, its Amendment 103 proposes to add new loopholes to the Net Neutrality principle: “End-users shall also be free to agree with either providers of electronic communications to the public or with providers of content, applications and services on the provision of specialised services with an enhanced quality of service. Where such agreements are concluded with the provider of internet access, that provider shall ensure that the enhanced quality service does not impair the general quality of internet access, except as may be necessary taking into account the state of the art and technology deployed, in order to ensure the delivery of the enhanced quality service.” (the text in bold was added to the initial text by the rapporteur Pilar del Castillo Vera).
      End-users should be able to choose whether they want to communicate through defined QoS (by activating/desactivating the use of defined QoS at will), and which service or application providers they use through such QoS.
    • 6. Tentative timetable:
      • Public Hearings in the IMCO and ITRE committees - 27-28 November 2013
      • Presentation of the Castillo Vera Draft Report on ITRE committee - 9 December 2013
      • Deadline amendments for ITRE Report - 17 December 2013
      • Opinion Committee votes - Mid-January 2014
      • Consideration of amendments - 22-23 January 2014
      • Committee of the Region's plenary sitting: vote of its opinion - End of January 2014
      • ITRE committee vote - 27 February 2014
      • Final vote in Plenary Session - 2 April 2014

    • 7. As an example, one year has passed between the introduction of the European Commission's proposal for a Regulation on Data Protection and the draft report of its rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht.
    • 8. See for example: https://wiki.netzfreiheit.org/w/Net_neutrality_regulation_amendments and http://networkneutrality.info/sources.html (especially point 8)
    • 9. Shadow-rapporteurs are:

      Committees for opinion are:

    September 18 2013

    September 11 2013

    Kroes' Unacceptable Anti-Net Neutrality Law Rushed Despite Criticisms

    Paris, 11 September 2013 – Amid strong criticisms both inside and outside the European Commission, Neelie Kroes decided to rush the adoption of her draft telecom legislation, which includes very controversial anti-Net neutrality proposals. Commissioner Kroes, who spent the whole legislature denying the very need for legislative action on the topic, is now rushing a flawed lobby-driven text, in complete disrespect of European citizens. The ball is now in the hands of the European Parliament, just months ahead of upcoming elections.


    Computer generated re-enactment
    of Neelie Kroes preparing her
    draft legislation

    As with the working versions leaked in the past weeks, and despite vivid criticisms both outside and inside the Commission1, the regulation adopted today by the European Commission2 contains dangerous fake Net neutrality proposals. This flawed text pretends to defend the principle of Net neutrality by banning blocking and throttling of Internet communications3 but makes it completely meaningless by explicitly allowing undue commercial discrimination through prioritization4.

    A few months before the end of her mandate and after years of promises and consultations on Net neutrality, Neelie Kroes is giving in to the long-lasting demand of operators, in a major instance of corporate policy capture5, burying at the same time the proposals of civil society and the protection of the public interest.

    This dangerous legislative text will be officially presented tomorrow by the EU Commission. More than ever, citizens need to make their voices heard and ensure that their elected representatives in the European Parliament oppose Neelie Kroes' model. Instead, the Parliament must enact strong protections for the free and open Internet.

    “Neelie Kroes is consciously betraying EU citizens by giving in to the powerful telecom lobbies. Mrs Kroes' draft is flawed by design to allow commercial breaches of Net neutrality, through forms of discrimination which undermine our freedom of communication and are anti-competitive by nature. Rushing such measures, a few months before upcoming elections, is outrageous and shows the profoundly disturbing disconnection between the Commission and citizens. The Parliament must replace this section of the text by provisions guaranteeing the enforcement of a true and unconditional Net neutrality in order to defend the public interest.” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

    • 1. A leaked criticism of a draft by Viviane Redding's services says for example “such limited possibilities of accessing Internet content and services of their choice would run counter to the stated objectives of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”: http://www.edri.org/NN-negativeopinions
    • 2. La Quadrature du Net accessed a draft dated 10-09-2013 under embargo
    • 3. Item "Rights of end-users" of the text:
      "To guarantee an appropriate level of consumer protection across the EU, rules defining the rights of end-users are harmonised, including:
      - the obligation on providers to provide unhindered connection to all content, applications or services being accessed by end-users – also referred to as Net Neutrality - while regulating the use of traffic management measures by operators in respect of general internet access. At the same time, the legal framework for specialised services with enhanced quality is clarified."
    • 4. "23.2 End-users shall also be free to agree with either providers of electronic communications to the public or with providers of content, applications and services on the provision of specialised services with an enhanced quality of service."
      Prioritization is another word for the more technical term of "guaranteed" or "differentiated" "Quality of Service", as opposed to the traditional "best-effort" model for the delivery of Internet traffic and means that all that is not prioritized is in practice de-prioritized
    • 5. See our analysis on the ETICS consortium and its ties to Kroes' proposal: https://www.laquadrature.net/en/neelie-kroes-pushing-telcos-agenda-to-end-net-neutrality

    August 30 2013

    Neelie Kroes Pushing Telcos' Agenda to End Net Neutrality

    Paris, 30 August 2013 — For the past 3 years, a consortium led by Alcatel-Lucent has been working on technical, business and legal aspects of a plan that would effectively put an end to the free and open Internet we enjoy today. Under the guise of protecting Net neutrality, EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes is about to give these big telecom companies a EU-wide legal shield to achieve their power-grab on the Internet economy, as confirmed by a new leaked EU Commission document. Such a shocking instance of corporate policy capture would have disastrous effects for freedom and innovation online.

    Last month, La Quadrature du Net and several advocacy groups slammed the Commission's draft proposal on the reform of the EU telecom market, showing how it aims at killing Net neutrality under the guise of defending it, while the article 20 of the draft would prevent telecom operators from blocking and throttling Internet communications1. The proposal would also let operators establish data-caps, breaking away from the unlimited access offers many European citizens enjoy today2.

    As we pointed out, the Commission would thereby be giving in to the telecoms lobby's long-lasting demand to enter into business deals with big content providers such as Google, Facebook or traditional broadcasters to prioritise their data flows over the Internet3. Through such a corporate power-grab, this plan would relegate the rest of citizens and new-entrant innovators to a slower Internet, undermining competition, innovation, and the open platform of communication called the Internet.

    While Commissioner Neelie Kroes and her staff have arrogantly dismissed these criticisms, a comparison between the draft regulation and the ETICS consortium documents4 shows that they were exactly to the point. These documents help explain why Neelie Kroes — who not long ago used to condemn commercially-motivated traffic discrimination5 — has become such an ardent defendant of the short-term business interests of dominant telecom operators.

    What is ETICS?

    Three years ago, under the ironic name of ETICS (for "Economics and Technologies for Inter-Carrier Services"), a consortium started working on the technical, business and legal aspects of so-called "Assured Service Quality" (or "ASQ"), another name for "traffic proritization".


    ETICS partners

    Led by the telecom equipment company Alcatel-Lucent, ETICS was comprised of dominant telecom operators (BT, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telenor), but also research institutions (Politecnico di Milano, Institut Telecom, Université de Versailles, University of Stuttgart). EU taxpayers will also be interested in knowing that most of the project's budget came from an 8-million-euro public subsidy from the European Union, under a research program on "Future Networks"6.

    The ETICS project concluded in June 2013 by issuing its last deliverables. Among many false assumptions, the ETICS documents claim that "current Internet funding and management rules may have reached their limit", and that traffic prioritization on the Internet is the only way for operators to invest in faster networks. Meanwhile, they grossly ignore or misrepresent the arguments of Net neutrality advocates7. But in spite (or because) of all their biases, these documents help to shed a new light on much of the the EU policy debate on Net neutrality of the past three years.

    ETICS and Kroes' shifting stance on Net neutrality

    Looking at the ETICS document, it becomes absolutely clear that Neelie Kroes' anti-Net neutrality stance has been directly aimed at paving the way for the regulatory framework called for by the consortium.

    At the beginning of her mandate, during her confirmation hearing at the EU Parliament, Neelie Kroes made a unequivocal statement against commercially-motivated anti-Net neutrality practices. But a few months later, the ETICS project was launched, and in 2011, Kroes started convening so-called "CEO-roundtables" to gather ideas on "boosting investment in high speed broadband networks". Of course, civil society, researchers and the many citizen organizations providing flexible and affordable Internet access across Europe remained out of the picture. Meanwhile, most of the ETIC consortium's members were represented at these gatherings.

    Since then, Kroes has constantly sided with the telecom lobby on this fundamental question8. For instance, in the Fall of 2012, the Brussels-based lobby of dominant telecom operators, ETNO, proposed amendments to the founding treaty of the International Telecoms Union (ITU) that would have imposed “differentiated Quality of Service” (i.e. prioritization) on the Internet worldwide9. It was an attempt at imposing on the international scale the anti-Net neutrality business models pushed by big EU telcos. And Neelie Kroes remained silent, in spite of the criticisms of advocacy groups and other stakeholders: it was clear that ETNO had her tacit support. Such support became more explicit last January, after the ETNO proposals were rejected at the ITU, when Kroes wrote in an Op-Ed that she supported a fragmented Internet, whereby operators could give priority to specific online services at the expense of all other Internet users.

    Looking at the ETICS document, it is clear that the ETNO ITU proposals were modeled on the recommendations of the consortium. And now, Kroes is pushing for the same exact regulatory framework that would allow the ETICS consortium to develop business practices that will end Net neutrality and severely undermine the open platform of expression and innovation that is the Internet.

    Kroes's proposal is ETICS's "model law"

    Not only does the proposed article 20 of the draft regulation recognize the operators' "freedom" to prioritize10, the text also creates the perfect regulatory framework for "Assured Service Quality", which precisely accommodates the product and business models that the consortium spent three years working on11. But there is more. ETICS' research on current regulatory frameworks suggested that existing or future national Net neutrality rules could prevent them from launching ASQ-based services. And so in its proposal, the EU Commission carved out a EU-wide loophole banning NRA from enforcing "real" Net neutrality12.

    Net neutrality advocates, La Quadrature included, have argued that "guaranteed" Quality of Service for existing Internet services and applications (as opposed to the traditional best-effort delivery model) could be acceptable under three main conditions13:

    However, that is not something ETNO or ETICS is interested in. To be sure, big telcos want to be able to act as an oligopoly, picking the winners of the Internet economy by deciding who is able to benefit from guaranteed QoS, monetizing prioritized access to their subscribers to the highest-bedding online services (e.g. Google, Facebook or media corporations). After all, there would be big money to be made for an ETICS cartel: according to the document, ASQ-based video communications could make up as much as 73% of all Internet video traffic within five years; it also forecasts that ETICS partners could be able to grab 25% of Skype's revenues.

    The draft regulation, as well as Neelie Kroes' repeated statements and refusal to genuinely address the concerns voiced by civil society last month, confirm that the Commission is ready to push for this unacceptable model16. If adopted as is, the regulation would turn Internet access providers into the Internet's gatekeepers, breaking the historic model of growth and innovation that has worked so well for the past two decades, as well as the egalitarian platform of free communications we know today.

    In the coming days, the European Commission will make public the draft regulation. Citizens as well as policy-makers must vigorously oppose Neelie Kroes' plan, and instead adopt a meaningful protection of Net neutrality against the risk of corporate capture and rent-seeking business-models. In particular, lawmakers should amend the text to explicitly ban prioritization of Internet services. The future of the Internet is at stake.

    Sources

    • 1. Article 20(1): "End-users shall be free to access and distribute information and content, run applications and use services of their choice. via their internet access service.
      Article 20(5): "Within the limits of any contractually agreed data volumes or speeds for internet access services, providers of electronic communications to the public internet access services shall not restrict the foregoing freedoms provided for in paragraph 1 by employing traffic management practices solely or primarily to block, slowing down, degrading or otherwise discriminating against specific services or content, applications or services, or specific classes thereof, unless,except in cases where it necessary to apply reasonable traffic management measures. Reasonable traffic management measures shall be transparent, non-discriminatory, proportionate (...).", the Commission would let them engage in prioritization (through "specialised services" and "Assured Service Quality" products), which is of course another form of discriminationPrioritization is a non-technical term for "guaranteed", "differentiated" "Quality of Service", as opposed to the traditional "best-effort" model for the delivery of Internet traffic
    • 2. See also article 20(1): "End-users shall be free to agree enter into agreements on data volumes, and speeds and general quality characteristics with providers of electronic communications to the public internet access services and, in accordance with any such agreements relative to data volumes, to avail of any offers by providers of internet content, applications and services (...)."
    • 3. In early-2010, for instance, the CEO of Telefonica declared that “Internet search engines use our Net without paying anything at all, which is good for them but bad for us. It is obvious that this situation must change, our strategy is to change this”. eitb.com, 6 February 2010, Spanish Telefónica to charge Google, Yahoo, Bing.
    • 4. The ETICS documents are referenced at the end of the post, and linked to in the text.
    • 5. At the beginning of her mandate, during her confirmation hearing at the EU Parliament, Neelie Kroes made a unequivocal statement against commercially-motivated anti-Net neutrality practices.
    • 6. Source: http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=ICT_UNIFIEDSRCH&ACTION=D&DOC=3821&CAT=PROJ&QUERY=0130ef6d9003:9714:06ee8c4b&RCN=93071
    • 7. For instance, after having described at length the position of those who defended the status quo (i.e sticking to competition and transparency as the solution for anti-Net neutrality abuses) in EU policy consultations, the document claims that "a few (sic) opinions recognized that transparency and competition are part of the answer, but remarked that they do not provide the full solution" (p. 95). Revealingly, ETICS also distinguishes between two definitions of Net neutrality: "While the first (avoiding intentional traffic hampering but applying prioritization) can more exactly be termed as 'neutrality', the other (avoiding any kind of traffic management) should be better qualified as 'egalitarianism'." (p. 121).

      Needless to say, ETICS supports the former, which is not neutrality, at least not as nearly all stakeholders independent from telecoms operators understand it. And contrary to the claim of the document, the second acception does give room for "reasonable" traffic management on the Internet, for instance to protect the integrity of networks or deal with unforeseen congestion whereby all traffic should be treated equally, and even possibly user-controlled, application-agnostic managed QoS on the public Internet.

    • 8. A timeline have been created to show the evolution of her stance on Net neutrality: http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/108784/Net-neutrality-in-Europe/
    • 9. At that time, ETNO said the ITU's founding treaty should “enable incremental revenues by end‐to‐end QoS pricing and content value pricing” and allow for “new interconnection policies based on the differentiation of the QoS parameters for specific services and types of traffic (not only on the "volume")”. That, they said, should be part of the “Internet ecosystem” (i.e. not just for private IP networks physically distinct from the public Internet).
    • 10. “(...) Providers of content, applications and services and providers of electronic communications to the public shall be free to agree with each other on the treatment of the related data volumes or on the transmission of traffic as specialised services with a defined quality of service or dedicated capacity so long as the provision of such specialised services does not substantially impair the quality of internet access services.”
      What does "substantially impair", it is not said. In the previous version of the draft, there was no reference to the notion of "specialised services", but only to "defined quality of service". This latter addition appears to be the Commission's response to the criticisms of civil society on its first draft. As Kroes and her staff refused to address the question of: "Will you allow priorization on the public Internet?", it is now using the notion of specialized services to imply that defined quality of service will only be allowed on private IP networks physically separate from the flow of Internet communications. This is how "specialised services" are usually understood. But in this new draft, discrimination amounting to priorization is not banned on the public Internet in the definition of Net neutrality. Actually, the Internet itself is never defined, whereas "specialised services" are only vaguely defined: "Specialised service" means an electronic communications service or an information society service that provides the capability to access specific content, applications or services, or a combination thereof, or provides the capability to send or receive data to or from a determined number of parties or endpoints; and that is not marketed or widely used as a substitute for internet access service."
      This definition suffers from severe flaw, since it does not stress the fact that to be acceptable, "specialised services" should clearly be defined as private, closed to the public, and separate from the Internet at the network layer. Moreover, the definition of Net neutrality in 20(1) and 20(5) should stress that positive discrimination under the form of priorization on the Internet should be banned (i.e not just banning blocking, throttling, degrading or discriminating against, but also discriminating in favor of particular services of classes of traffic). Lastly, the framework should define more thoroughly the general architectural features of the Internet.
    • 11. In the recitals state that: "Assured service quality (ASQ) connectivity product" means a product that is made available at the internet protocol (IP) exchange, which enables customers to set up an IP communication link between a point of interconnection and one or several fixed network termination points, and enables defined levels of end to end network performance for the provision of specific services to end users on the basis of the delivery of a specified guaranteed quality of service, based on specified parameters".
      The requirement for ASQ products are further defined in annex II of the draft regulation: "Connectivity agreement ensuring end-to-end Quality of Service, based on common specified parameters that enable the provision of at least the following classes of services: voice and video calls; broadcast of audio-visual content; and - data critical applications."
    • 12. See again article 20: “The exercise of these freedoms shall not be restricted by national competent authorities, or, as regards the freedom laid down for end-users, by providers of electronic communications to the public, save in accordance with the provisions of this Regulation, the Directives and other provisions of Union law.”
    • 13. See also John Palfrey's 2010 submission to the FCC (item 3): http://jpalfrey.andover.edu/2010/11/03/a-citizens-choice-framework-for-net-neutrality/
    • 14. End-users should be able to choose whether they want to communicate through defined QoS, and which service or application providers they use through such QoS. This kind of application-agnostic and user-controlled discrimination is defined in a May 2012 ETICS document as the "Quality Classes – User Pays" model (p. 130). For more discussion on end-user-controlled Quality of Service, see the work of prof. Barbara van Schewick: https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2012/06/network-non-discrimination-and-quality-service
    • 15. On this point, the draft regulation says that guaranteed QoS shall not "substantially impair" Internet access, which is both vague and extremely weak. It will do very little to address the problem.
    • 16. The Commission does so by allowing "assured service quality" products on so-called "specialised services" (a category introduced in the latest draft regulation). The problem is that "specialized services" are never correctly defined as strictly separate from the public Internet or regulated so that they do not unfairly compete with existing Internet services or applications. This inclusion therefore appears to be a mere diversion aimed at misleading the Commission's critics.

    July 31 2013

    Four short links: 31 July 2013

    1. How to Easily Resize and Cache Images for the Mobile Web (Pete Warden) — I set up a server running the excellent ImageProxy open-source project, and then I placed a Cloudfront CDN in front of it to cache the results. (a how-to covering the tricksy bits)
    2. Google’s Position on Net Neutrality Changes? (Wired) — At issue is Google Fiber’s Terms of Service, which contains a broad prohibition against customers attaching “servers” to its ultrafast 1 Gbps network in Kansas City. Google wants to ban the use of servers because it plans to offer a business class offering in the future. [...] In its response [to a complaint], Google defended its sweeping ban by citing the very ISPs it opposed through the years-long fight for rules that require broadband providers to treat all packets equally.
    3. The Future of Programming (Bret Victor) — gorgeous slides, fascinating talk, and this advice from Alan Kay: I think the trick with knowledge is to “acquire it, and forget all except the perfume” — because it is noisy and sometimes drowns out one’s own “brain voices”. The perfume part is important because it will help find the knowledge again to help get to the destinations the inner urges pick.
    4. psd.rb — Ruby code for reading PSD files (MIT licensed).

    July 19 2013

    Why the EU Commission's True Intent is to Kill Net Neutrality

    Paris, 19 July 2013 — Since last week, after citizen groups started criticizing the EU Commission over its leaked draft regulation threatening to kill Net neutrality, Commissioner Neelie Kroes and her staff have tried to defend their proposal on Twitter, arguing that these criticisms were “misleading European citizens”. Here is a summary of what was said, not said, and how it reveals that these criticisms are absolutely right.

    Late last week, after EDRi leaked the EU Commission's "draft regulation on a telecom single market", citizen groups like Bits of Freedom, Netzpolitik and La Quadrature du Net slammed the proposal for aiming to kill Net neutrality under the guise of defending it.

    What is in the Commission's proposal?

    As La Quadrature wrote, while seemingly defending Net neutrality principle by banning blocking and throttling Internet communications1, the draft text makes it meaningless by explicitly allowing prioritization, which is another form of discrimination (prioritization is another word for the more technical term of "guaranteed" or "differentiated" "Quality of Service", as opposed to the traditional "best-effort" model for the delivery of Internet traffic)2.

    What is more, the text also proposes that, “in the pursuit of the foregoing freedom (sic)”, telecom operators should be free to impose data caps on users3. Finally, it aims at preventing national authorities from protecting online freedom of expression and innovation by introducing real protections for Net neutrality4.

    From the leaked document, it seems clear that far from introducing a real protection for the open and neutral Internet, the EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes wants to grant the telecom lobby its long-lasting demand to implement traffic management measures and pricing schemes that would boost their revenues at the expense of freedom of communication and innovation.

    However, the Commission reacted angrily to the criticisms by civil society groups, attacking our credibility and saying that we were misleading EU citizens. First, Ryan Heath, the spokesperson of Neelie Kroes, sought to contradict our interpretations. In order to strenghten his claims and reflect his alleged commitment (Mr. Heath even changed his avatar in the course of the feverish exchanges):

    Then, Commissioner Kroes herself (also Vice-President of the Commission) went ahead and directly tried to undermine the credibility of both Netzpolitik and La Quadrature du Net:

    As we explain below, these accusations are both ill-founded, hypocritical and unacceptable.

    Traffic prioritisation: A long-lasting demand of the telecom lobby

    La Quadrature and other advocacy groups have said that by allowing prioritisation, the Commission would be giving in to the telecoms lobby's long-lasting demand to enter into business deals with big content providers such as Google, Facebook or traditional broadcasters to prioritise their data flows over the Internet5.

    Such a law condoning prioritization would not be something coming out of the blue. During last year's debate on the WCIT, the Brussels-based lobby of dominant telecom operators, ETNO, proposed amendments to the founding treaty of the International Telecoms Union (ITU) that would have imposed “differentiated Quality of Service” (i.e. prioritization) worldwide.

    At the time, ETNO said the ITU's founding treaty should “enable incremental revenues by end‐to‐end QoS pricing and content value pricing” and allow for “new interconnection policies based on the differentiation of the QoS parameters for specific services and types of traffic (not only on the "volume")”. That, they say, should be part of the “Internet ecosystem” (i.e. not just for so-called "managed services" or "specialized services", which are private IP networks distinct from the public Internet). Back then, the ETNO chairman, Luigi Gambardella also dismissed any claims that these amendments would put an end to Net neutrality as "false information" and bad "propaganda".

    Fortunately, after a mobilization of civil society - and in spite of the tacit support ETNO apparently benefited from the EU Commission and some Member States governments such as France - these dangerous amendments were eventually

    EU Commission playing dumb on Net Neutrality

    Today, six months after the Dubai episode, ETNO's proposals resurface in the Commission's proposal:

    “Providers of content, applications and services and providers of electronic communications to the public shall be free to agree with each other on the treatment of the related data volumes or on the transmission of traffic with a defined quality of service.”

    It should be of no surprise, then, that a EU trade group for cable TV providers, Cable Europe, was recently reported in the Financial Times to welcome the so-called "Net-Neutrality provision" of the draft regulation, since it “allows operators to enter into commercial agreements with Internet content providers over certain services”. This analysis is also confirmed by a recent report of the consultancy Cullen International, who also analyzed the leaked text:

    At this stage, the Commission has not contradicted Cable Europe or Cullen's analysis. Only civil society groups have been criticized on Twitter, with the Commission refusing to acknowledge that it is pushing for prioritisation.

    Instead, the Commission sticks to its spin: it maintains that by preventing blocking and throttling, it is protecting Net neutrality. But it cannot ignore (or else it is worryingly incompetent) that established definitions of this crucial principle stress that non-discrimination is to be understood as the “homogeneous treatment of flows”, as a French parliamentary report rightly pointed out two years ago. And it is well aware that from a technical point of view, prioritizing some traffic necessarily means that all other data streams will be slowed down.

    Whether it is blocking, throttling or prioritizing Internet communications, discriminatory traffic management practices imposed by telecom operators are unacceptable. The Commission's refusal to acknowledge the fundamental flaws of its so-called "Net neutrality provision" is both shallow and hypocritical. Especially when one considers that its defense of the "telcos' freedom" clearly shows what its real intentions are:

    Discrimination and data-caps as the price for better networks?

    But why is the Commission so keen on giving telecoms operators a free hand in making deals with big content providers? As pointed out above, Neelie Kroes and her staff are desperately trying to boost investment in faster networks across the EU, while at the same time decreasing roaming charges to appear "consumer-friendly". These consensual objectives are Kroes' main political priorities, to the extent that she is ready to sacrifice the open Internet and unlimited access offers by allowing data-caps so as to boost telcos' revenues. In return, she naively hopes that operators will use the extra money to invest in new, better networks.

    Such a plan is downright harmful, and once again shows the Commission's bias toward the position of the telecom lobby. As we wrote in 2009, it is Net neutrality that

    has made Internet the one invention in the history of mankind that has scaled seamlessly from an experiment connecting 4 or 5 local networks of research centers to a global network connecting a billion and a half humans [now close to 2,5 billions], and on which information is transmitted that represents ten orders of magnitude more traffic in 20 years (10000 millions times)6. With the arrival of new technologies, Internet applications became more sophisticated and more demanding in terms of network capacities. To deliver these innovative services to end-users, telecoms operators have invested in more bandwidth.

    This is the Internet's historical model for the growth, one that is at threat if we allow operators to manage the growth of traffic demand by imposing data-caps, implementing pricing volume schemes and profiting from congestion through business arrangements for prioritizing a just a few content providers.The direct effect of such practices will be to disincentivize investments in more network capacities (even though the price of bandwidth is rapidly decreasing and that the global rate of growth in percentage terms is declining over time). Blind to this economic reality, the Commission argues that its proposal is the only way to go:

    As one Twitter participant rightly points out:

    If the Commission really was serious about fostering better Internet access and innovation across the EU, it would stick to current offerings where pricing is based first and foremost on speeds, and launch a debate on allowing end-user-controlled quality of service7. Beyond economic models, it would push for ambitious open spectrum policies, encourage citizen organizations working all over the continent to provide alternative and cheap Internet access, and better regulate the billions of euros of subsidies to ensure that they form part of the Internet commons rather than reinforcing dominant telecoms operators.

    Conclusion

    After ACTA and many other policy initiatives, the EU Commission is once again giving in to big corporations at the expense of the public interest. It acts as a pretentious technocratic body, overly confident that it has the one perfect answer to a policy problem.

    And again, it resorts to shameless personal attacks and newspeak, calling Net neutrality what it knows is not, lying to EU citizens and blaming citizen groups who are only trying to engage in a democratic debate of prime importance for the future of the Internet.

    At the beginning of her mandate, during her confirmation hearing at the EU Parliament, Neelie Kroes made a unequivocal statement against commercially motivated anti-Net neutrality practices. Since then, she has constantly sided with the telecom lobby on this fundamental question. By now, citizens have learned she cannot be trusted.

    • 1. The Commission provides a vague, brief but seemingly accurate description of Net neutrality: “End-users shall be free to access and distribute information and content, run applications and use services of their choice.”
    • 2. “(...) Providers of content, applications and services and providers of electronic communications to the public shall be free to agree with each other on the treatment of the related data volumes or on the transmission of traffic with a defined quality of service.”
    • 3. “End-users shall be free to agree on data volumes, speeds and general quality characteristics with providers of electronic communications to the public and, in accordance with any such agreements relative to data volumes, to avail of any offers by providers of content, applications and services, including offers with defined quality of service.”
    • 4. “The exercise of these freedoms shall not be restricted by national competent authorities, or, as regards the freedom laid down for end-users, by providers of electronic communications to the public, save in accordance with the provisions of this Regulation, the Directives and other provisions of Union law.”
    • 5. In early-2010, for instance, the CEO of Telefonica declared that “Internet search engines use our Net without paying anything at all, which is good for them but bad for us. It is obvious that this situation must change, our strategy is to change this”. eitb.com, 6 February 2010, Spanish Telefónica to charge Google, Yahoo, Bing.
    • 6. Andrew Odlyzko, Internet traffic growth: Sources and implications: http://www.dtc.umn.edu/~odlyzko/doc/itcom.internet.growth.pdf
      There is debate on whether this ability to scale up is today endangered by an acceleration of the growth rate of traffic. Andrew Odlyzko, the leading expert on Internet statistics and modeling stresses that this claim is not founded. See Andrew Odlyzko, Threats to the Internet: Too Much or Too Little Growth?, http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=592&doc_id=146747&.
    • 7. See the work of prof. Barabara van Schewick: https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2012/06/network-non-discrimination-and-quality-service
    Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

    July 12 2013

    Net Neutrality: Will Kroes Fool Citizens (And Give In to Telcos)?

    Paris, July 12th 2013 -- A leaked draft legislative text shows that the European Commission might be about to kill the open and free Internet. Under the guise of protecting Net neutrality, the Commission wants to give telecom operators a free hand to develop business models that would irremediably undermine freedom of communication on the Internet. For years now, commissioner Neelie Kroes has been bafflingly sympathetic to big telecom companies on the fundamental issue of Net neutrality, but with this draft text she would be going much too far in betraying citizens.

    Yesterday, Brussels-based group EDRi leaked the EU Commission's "draft regulation on a telecom single market". As recently announced by commissioner Neelie Kroes, the draft -due to be officially presented in September- contains a provision allegedly protecting Net neutrality (article 20). But while seemingly protecting this fundamental principle, the Commission wants to allow telecom operators to discriminate our Internet communications and thereby kill the free and open Internet.Neelie Kroes

    After laying down the Net neutrality principle1, the draft regulation makes it meaningless by saying that, "in the pursuit of the foregoing freedom (sic)", telecom operators should be free to impose data caps on users (which is a nonsense from an economic point of view)2 and to enter in business agreements providing faster data flows to big online services (i.a. Google or Facebook)3. This latter point is absolutely contrary to the definition of Net neutrality, according to which all data flows must be equally treated by network operators, regardless of their source, destination or application. It would severely hamper innovation online as well as the inclusiveness of the global communication platform we call the Internet. The leaked text contains several other exceptions to the principle4 which would in practice make it toothless.

    Furthermore, Neelie Kroes wants to prevent national authorities from protecting online freedom of expression and innovation by introducing real protections for Net neutrality5, in the spirit of what the Netherlands and Slovenia have both already done in 2012. She would thereby be giving telcos a EU-wide shield to protect themselves from the kind of regulation they have been lobbying against these past years.

    "Now we know what Neelie Kroes meant when she said her proposal would not be 'everything you dreamed of'; she meant it would infuriate citizens and please the telecom lobby. She seems to be preparing to betray all the citizens who, for the past four years, have been patiently demanding a EU Net neutrality legislation that would sanctuarize the key architectural features of the Internet. The Commission must urgently revise its proposal; and citizens and civil society organizations must be ready for one of the most important battles to protect an open Internet, free from harmful discriminatory practices favoring big corporations at the expense of all others.", said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.

    • 1. The Commission provides a vague, brief but seemingly accurate description of Net neutrality : "End-users shall be free to access and distribute information and content, run applications and use services of their choice."
    • 2. "End-users shall be free to agree on data volumes, speeds and general quality characteristics with providers of electronic communications to the public and, in accordance with any such agreements relative to data volumes, to avail of any offers by providers of content, applications and services, including offers with defined quality of service
    • 3. "To the same end, providers of content, applications and services and providers of electronic communications to the public shall be free to agree with each other on the treatment of the related data volumes or on the transmission of traffic with a defined quality of service."
    • 4. such as the vague notion of "preserving the integrity" of the network
    • 5. "The exercise of these freedoms shall not be restricted by national competent authorities, or, as regards the freedom laid down for end-users, by providers of electronic communications to the public, save in accordance with the provisions of this Regulation, the Directives and other provisions of Union law."

    March 12 2013

    Net Neutrality Neutralised in France?

    Paris, 12 March 2013 — Questioned by the French government on the need to legislate on the protection of freedoms on the Internet, the National Digital Council (Conseil national du numérique or CNNum) published today an opinion on Net neutrality1 [fr]. It recommends that the French government makes this principle of non-discrimination into law, broadening its scope to include search engines and other online services. But by overbroadening the neutrality principle, the CCNum's recommendations could result in a meaningless law.

    The CNNum's opinion2, if it suggests advances for the protection of citizens by calling on the French government to enshrine the principle of Net neutrality into law, blurs this concept by trying to also include search engines and “social networks”3.

    But in extending the principle of Net neutrality to all kinds of Internet actors, the National Digital Council overlooks the main issue at stake: establishing specific measures concerning telecom operators' obligations. No actual sanctions are proposed to implement the Net neutrality principle in the face of restrictions imposed by operators.

    This dilution of the concept of Net neutrality combined with the absence of binding measures unfortunately raises fears that the National Digital Council's report will not lead to any efficient or even applicable measure.

    “The National Digital Council has failed to propose a strong and effective protection of Net neutrality. In trying to solve different problems with one magic bullet, this opinion could result in a neutralised neutrality that won't solve anything. As have already done the Netherlands, Slovenia, Chile and Peru, France must legislate to protect Net neutrality and include sanctions against operators that illegitimately restrict access to online communications. If the future law promised by the government were to follow the National Digital Council's recommendations and only protect a vaguely defined neutrality, the Parliament would then have to amend the text for it to have any legs.” concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

    To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

    • 1. Net neutrality, or network neutrality, is a founding principle of the Internet which guarantees that telecoms operators do not discriminate online content, services or applications, be it according to the source, the recipient, or the nature of the information being transmitted. This principle ensures that all users, whatever their resources, access the same and whole network, and makes freedom of communication and innovation possible.
    • 2. See also its report: https://www.laquadrature.net/files/CNNum-rapport-sur-la-neutralite-du-net [fr]
    • 3. These online services are defined as “access and communication services open to the public” (our translation)
    Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

    March 01 2013

    Freedoms Online in France: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

    Paris, 28 February 2013 — Following an intergovernmental seminar on digital policy [fr], French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced a law “on the protection of digital rights and freedoms” for early 2014. While this announcement offers hope for the defense of freedoms online, recent statements made by members of the French government suggest it is not yet ready to break away from the repressive trend initiated by its predecessors.

    The law announced by Jean-Marc Ayrault at the end of the intergovernmental seminar on digital policy alludes to a number of improvements regarding the protection of freedoms online, among which the possible legal protection of Net neutrality which is once again delayed (our translation):

    If, once the National Digital Council (Conseil national du numérique) has expressed its opinion on Net neutrality, there appears to be a legal loophole in the protection of freedom of expression and communication on the Internet [then] the government will offer legislative dispositions.1

    Unfortunately, the government seems to be reducing the stakes of freedom of expression online to that of Net neutrality protection. Yet, though the latter is of course crucial to preserve the universal architecture of the Internet, it is not enough in and of itself.

    In the meantime, other announcements and statements by the government – such as the return of administrative filtering of websites, which was thought to be dead and buried2, the announced reform of the French 1881 law on freedom of the press to take into account the Internet's strike force [fr], and the calling into question of web hosting services' liability by members of the majority [fr] and the Pierre Lescure working group3 [fr] – show that the current French government is not ready to break away from the repressive policies of Nicolas Sarkozy's ministers.

    “The government does as if Net neutrality was the sole issue at stake in the protection of freedom of expression online. In the meantime, we see a resurgence of the sarkozyst rhetoric of considering Internet a dangerous lawless zone4, which in turn justifies private polices or the return of administrative censorship. Under the guise of a law on freedoms online, which could bring real improvements, the French government is postponing a possible legislation on Net neutrality and bringing the issue of repressive measures back on the agenda.” declared Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

    To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

    • 1. After the roundtable organized in January in response to customer access restrictions by Free (French ISP), Fleur Pellerin, the French Minister for the Digital Economy, had committed to announcing at the end of February [fr] the government's intention to legislate or not on Net neutrality, based on the National Digital Council's opinion.
    • 2. The French government's commitment that an “independent control will be created for the measures of administrative filtering or blocking” (our translation) alludes to a return of LOPPSI, the French law of orientation and programmation for internal security performance allowing administrative blocking in the name of tackling child abuse content online
      Source: http://lelab.europe1.fr/t/une-loi-taubira-sur-les-droits-et-libertes-num... [fr]
    • 3. Pierre Lescure (former CEO of Canal +, a major TV station owned by Universal) is currently leading a working group advising the French government on the future of Hadopi, the French "three strikes" agency
    • 4. A “zone de non-droit”. In 2011, after a political scandal was revealed on the Internet and by WikiLeaks' revelations, President Nicolas Sarkozy and his government described the Internet as a lawless zone to regulate, in order to justify repressive measures. On 7 February 2013, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, French Minister of Women's Rights and spokesperson for the Ayrault government, used the same words during a debate in the upper house of the French Parliament.
      Source: http://wiredpolis.tumblr.com/post/42835169471/liberte-dexpression-un-deb... [fr]

    January 17 2013

    Net Neutrality: Neelie Kroes Yields to Operator Pressure

    Paris, 17 January 2013 — In an Op-Ed in Libération (in French), Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Internet-related policies, can be found giving in to telecom operator pressure and giving up on Net Neutrality. Ms. Kroes supports the creation of a fragmented Internet, banning innovation and opening the door to unacceptable censorship.

    Neelie Kroes says: "Public interest is not in opposition with consumers subscribing to limited Internet offers, more differenciated, possibly cheaper" (our translation). By deliberately ignoring that such offers would change almost nothing for operators in terms of cost1, but would allow them to avoid investing in the development of network capacity while restraining possibilities for citizen participation, Neelie Kroes takes into account only short-term private interests that run contrary to public interest.

    When fundamental freedoms, innovation and competition are threatened (as evidenced by a study by the BEREC, the European regulator, according to which 20 to 50% of EU citizens would be subject to such access restrictions2) invoking the free market is not sufficient. This pseudo-liberal discourse, which instrumentalizes child protection and privacy, only tries to hide - unsuccessfully - that Neelie Kroes is giving in to operator pressure and choosing not to act.

    EU Commission representatives must urgently take strong measures to prevent telecom operators from controlling or censoring communications in order to protect citizens' fundamental freedoms3. Only users, at the network's edge, must be able to choose their access restrictions, through the use of parental control, ad blockers or any tool of their choice.

    "Through such shameless defense of operators, Neelie Kroes is giving up on defending the public interest and citizens, who must keep fighting to defend a universal Internet that allows innovation and democratic participation. Net neutrality is not a question of market but, before anything else, a question of fundamental freedoms.", rages Benjamin Sonntag, co-founder of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

    To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

    January 15 2013

    Net Neutrality in France: Is Minister Fleur Pellerin of Any Use?

    Paris, 15 January 2013 — The disappointment after the round table organized by the French Minister Fleur Pellerin on Net Neutrality was predictable. The debate only served to cover up the Minister's inaction. Evading the issue by referring it to an obscure committee, the Minister postpones again any ambitions for a draft law protecting citizens.

    Yet again, today's debate on Net Neutrality will have been a smokescreen. The voluntary speeches fall short with the referal of the issue to an obscure committee created by Nicolas Sarkozy, the CNN (Conseil national du numérique), all to finally justify the failure to adopt a serious position. Operators are left free by the State to restrict and monitor our online communications. While all the elements1 on the table demonstrate the need to act quickly by enshrining Net Neutrality into the French legislation, Fleur Pellerin still evades the issue.

    “By referring the issue to an obscure committee rather than announcing a draft law guaranteeing Net neutrality, the Minister of Digital Economy, Fleur Pellerin, is protecting operators' interests over those of the users. Fleur Pellerin evades the issue and abandons citizens, leaving them at the mercy of access restrictions dangerous for innovation and freedom.” said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson of the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

    To get more information and discuss this, you can visit our forum.

    Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
    Could not load more posts
    Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
    Just a second, loading more posts...
    You've reached the end.

    Don't be the product, buy the product!

    Schweinderl