Thursday

8th Dec 2016

EU to slap ban on online blocking

  • An estimated 236 million European Internet users have suffered a restricted service online (Photo: Bombardier)

The EU will ban Internet service providers from manipulating and blocking access to certain websites, according to a European Commission official.

Speaking with EUobserver on Tuesday (11 June) following an internal debate among commissioners, an EU official indicated that the proposal would include a ban on blocking and throttling. Bandwidth throttling, where a network provider deliberately slows down the service on certain websites, has been identified as the most common restriction to service.

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.

However, it is likely that exemptions will be included to differentiation based on speed and volume of online traffic.

The proposals, which will form part of an overhaul to the bloc's regulation on the digital telecoms sector, are expected to be published by digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes in late July.

"What matters is that people aren't stopped from accessing the content they want and that we maximise network investment so that everything works better because of higher speeds," the official said.

The Netherlands and Slovenia are currently the only EU countries with national laws on net neutrality.

Net neutrality campaigners argue that Internet service providers and governments should treat data equally and not discriminate against or restrict access to websites and online services.

Last week, 20 Internet entrepreneurs signed an open letter calling on EU lawmakers to put in place "safeguards to curb the tendencies of access operators to act as gatekeepers of the Internet."

They said the practice is "harmful to the fundamental rights of users, to new and existing companies counting on the global reach of the Internet to launch and grow their businesses and to innovation and the economy in general."

Meanwhile, evidence collected in 2012 by Berec, the pan-European group of national Internet service providers, found that around one in five fixed lines and over one in three mobile users had restricted services.

For their part, MEPs are likely to support net neutrality rules, having twice adopted non-legislative resolutions calling on the commission to act.

Speaking with this website, Marietje Schaake, a Dutch liberal MEP and prominent digital rights campaigner, welcomed the proposed.

"I'm happy that blocking and throttling will be banned. This practice hurts access to people's information, is anti-competitive and limits an open internet," she said

But she also voiced caution noting that "as ever the the devil will be in the detail", adding that "the gap between relying on transparency and competition as the commission has done in the past and rules that are legally binding is large. I really hope the Commission will take this important step."

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  2. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  4. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  6. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  7. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  8. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  9. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  10. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  11. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  12. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Transport and Mobility in Rome