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German Paper: EU Plans to Drop Net Neutrality

Plan would allow "telecom operators to discriminate our Internet communications and thereby kill the free and open Internet," says Internet freedom group

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

The EU is about to drop its policy on net neutrality,  Deutsche Welle (DW) reports on Wednesday, citing information from the German business paper Handelsblatt.

(Photo: Lourdes Muñoz Santamaria/cc/flickr)As the U.S.-based organization Free Press describes it,

Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers [ISPs] may not discriminate between different kinds of online content and apps. It guarantees a level playing field for all websites and Internet technologies.

Net Neutrality is the reason the Internet has driven online economic innovation, democratic participation and free speech. It protects our right to use any equipment, content, application or service without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher-quality service and which to demote to a slower lane.

According to the reporting by the German paper, which had seen a document outlining the proposed regulation, the EU had a policy that prevented ISPs from such data privileging, but the EU Commission appears to be about to backtrack on that with a new policy that would leave ISPs and content providers "free to negotiate agreements on volume tariffs and different qualities of data transmission for Internet users."

La Quadrature du Net, a Paris-based non-profit that works for Internet freedom and citizens' rights on the web, stated that the leaked document shows the EU Commission would allow "telecom operators to discriminate our Internet communications and thereby kill the free and open Internet."

Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature, said that Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, "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 Zimmermann.

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