European Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes has set out her plans on net neutrality to prevent anti-competitive blocking of rival services.
But the EU has no plans to intervene in court-sanctioned website blocking, such as The Pirate Bay blocks in the U.K. and other file-sharing sites. All the EU is promising is to prevent the “blocking or throttling of competing services.”
Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differently by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.
Net neutrality is one of the most disputed and argued points across Europe at the moment. Internet and broadband providers want to limit certain traffic to certain areas in order to give everyone a fair amount of bandwidth — ensuring that data hogs don’t impede someone else’s service, while customers want access to everything, and faster network speeds.
There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law. Since the early 2000s advocates of net neutrality and associated rules have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, and protocols), and even block out competitors.
European legislators argue that net neutrality is necessary for competition and innovation and it’s also important to keep the Internet open to non-economic interests. Blocking or throttle access to competing services is clearly not acceptable. But what does this really mean for European citizens?
European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes discusses the EU plans to safeguard the open Internet for all.
Video on net neutrality