Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

European Parliament voted 500-163 to reject critical net neutrality amendments. (Photo: European Parliament/flickr/cc)

Digital Rights 'Sold Off' as European Parliament Jettisons Net Neutrality

Parliament's vote "a profound disillusion for all those who, throughout the years, battled to ensure net neutrality in Europe."

Nadia Prupis

In a major setback for net neutrality, the European Parliament on Tuesday passed widely-maligned internet regulations without the amendments that rights groups said were crucial to protect free speech, democracy, and innovation online.

Wide loopholes in the rules open the door for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to discriminate against networks, speed up or slow down internet traffic, charge companies for faster loading times, and strip users of protections. The legislation passed 500-163.

"Today, Europe took a giant step away from its vision of becoming a world leader in the digital economy," said Anne Jellema, CEO of the digital rights group World Wide Web Foundation. "These weak and unclear net neutrality regulations threaten innovation and free speech. Now, European start-ups may have to compete on an uneven playing field against industry titans, while small civil society groups risk having their voices overwhelmed by well-funded giants."

Paris-based advocacy organization La Quadrature Du Net called the vote "a profound disillusion for all those who, throughout the years, battled to ensure net neutrality in Europe."

"Today [members of Parliament] had the chance to stand their ground against the Council and the Commission but they only showed a timid face in front of the threats to abandon the text or prolongation of the negotiations. By voting this incomplete and non-protective text, they sell off citizens' rights and liberties and they also hamper small and innovative companies, in favor of big telecommunication companies," said La Quadrature legal and policy analysis coordinator Agnès de Cornulier. "They also give a bad signal on their weakness, thus endangering all future negotiations."

Following the vote, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) will have nine months to develop guidelines for state-based agencies, like Ofcom in the United Kingdom, to implement the new rules.

Those guidelines could help consumers and companies regain some of their power amid the rejection of wider net neutrality protections, advocacy groups said—even if it comes by way of future court rulings on those regulations.

"All is not lost," Jellema said. "The European Parliament is essentially tossing a hot potato to the Body of European Regulators, national regulators and the courts, who will have to decide how these spectacularly unclear rules will be implemented. The onus is now on these groups to heed the call of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens and prevent a two-speed Internet."

De Cornulier added, "The task to mend the text's loopholes left by the MEPs now rests on governments deprived of transparency, at the risk of widening them even more, until Justice intervenes and long lasting judiciary procedures set out an uncertain precedence."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo