“Today’s vote on the Telecoms Single Market package in the European Parliament constitutes a broken promise both on the end of roaming surcharges and the establishment of net neutrality”, says Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party and shadow rapporteur for the Greens/EFA group in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.
“The European Parliament’s first reading position in April 2014 proposed far-reaching provisions for the introduction of net neutrality in Europe. In the end, not even the words ‘net neutrality’ survived the closed-door negotiations with the Commission and the Council. The text leaves open critical loopholes. Today, the Parliament decided not to adopt opposition amendments that could have fixed these shortcomings.
“The internet’s open structure is what made it the successful driver of growth and innovation in the digital economy and digital culture that it is today. That providers will be allowed to discriminate against certain traffic not only creates a two-tier internet, it also removes incentives for carriers to extend their capacities.
“The permission of ‘zero-rating’ allows certain services to be be vastly privileged. This practice is considered legally questionable and problematic for journalistic competitiveness by, among others, the German regulation authority Landesmedienanstalt Nordrhein-Westfalen. Legislation against zero-rating such as it exists in the Netherlands and Slovenia is rendered invalid by today’s vote.
“Over the past weeks, efforts among civil society to raise awareness on amendments in favour of net neutrality had intensified. Yesterday, WWW-inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee joined experts like Stanford professor Barbara van Schewick and Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig in an urgent call for closing the loopholes in the regulation.
“Despite all this, the regulation was passed unchanged by a majority in plenary today, a decision that may have been influenced by the public’s attention for the provision on the elimination of roaming surcharges that was included in the legislative package. Unfortunately, the Telecoms Single Market package doesn’t deliver in that respect either. The plan to place an end to roaming surcharges in Europe has been adopted pending a review of pricing and consumption patterns. Even if the review is completed by the 15 June 2017 deadline, roaming surcharges will only be suspended up to a ‘fair use’ limit beyond which they still apply and continue to hinder the breaking down of barriers within Europe.”
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