Saturday

10th Dec 2016

Focus

Public consultation on 'net neutrality' to delay EU rules on ISPs

  • Freedom online? (Photo: hdzimmermann)

Plans for tighter EU rules on Internet service providers have been pushed back to 2013 after the European Commission this week launched a public consultation lasting until mid-October.

The EU executive is seeking information about whether service providers manipulate online traffic management to promote their own products, and give web users sufficient power to easily switch operators, as part of its response to the "net neutrality" debate.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The move comes weeks after BEREC, the pan-European group of national Internet regulators, published a report claiming that between 20 and 50 per cent of Internet providers in Europe use software to block or restrict access to web sites and products run by rival companies.

Internet campaign groups complain that attempts by online service providers to block or restrict access online, while at the same time promoting their own services, distort the online market and are an abuse of their market position.

Under the EU's electronic communications rules consumers are entitled to be able to run applications and services of their choice without restriction. However, evidence collected by BEREC suggests that a sizeable number of Europeans have broadband contracts that give operators the right to limit access to services such as Voip (Voice over Internet Protocol) and file-sharing sites.

The regulators, who took evidence from over 400 Internet operators as well as trade organisations and individual users, found that 49 of the 266 fixed network operators and 41 of the 115 mobile networks had restricted access to sites. Bandwidth throttling, where a network provider deliberately slows down the Internet service on targeted websites, was identified as the most common restriction

"There is a lack of effective consumer choice when it comes to Internet offers," said Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

She also indicated her intention to "use this consultation to help prepare recommendations that will generate more real choices and end the net neutrality waiting game in Europe."

Despite this, the Commission favours binding regulation as a last resort, stating that the EU executive "considers regulatory intervention in competitive markets as inappropriate unless it is the only way to solve problems."

Following the release of the first BEREC report in May, Commissioner Kroes indicated that new EU guidelines would be released in 2012 claiming that the regulators had "provided the data I was looking for". However, the new consultation will last until mid-October with the Commission publishing proposals in early 2013.

EU asylum return focus expands police scrutiny

EU interior ministers agreed to start legislative talks with the EU parliament to expand the scope of an asylum database, Eurodac, to include migrants and stateless people.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The Brexit picture starts to emerge

The week in Westminster and Brussels highlight the difficulty Theresa May faces in trying to keep control of the Brexit timetable.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First