European Parliament Votes to Protect Net Neutrality, Kill Roaming Fees

Technology
Net Neutrality

European parliament is about to pass new laws to protect net neutrality in European Union. As part of a bigger proposal to create a single telecommunications market for the EU, European Parliament passed regulations that would not only protect net neutrality, but kill the unpopular roaming fees between EU member countries.

Still, the law is not ratified until the Council of the European Union approves it, which is expected by the end of this year.

Net neutrality is a very important concept, which has been part of the internet for years but now is under attack in many countries. The rule commands that all the internet traffic should be treated equal, without any discrimination. In other words, small blog should be treated the same way Amazon or Google are. The internet providers cannot provide better performance or different rates to certain websites. The problem is that internet providers do not like this rule, mainly because internet services that stream audio and video are using large amount of bandwidth.

If the rule of net neutrality is abolished, internet providers can not only favour big websites that will pay them, but also favour their own services and block competing services. For example, if the providers own a music streaming service, it may block or slow down Spotify or YouTube.

The original version of the law that went to the European Parliament included a loophole that would let providers to charge different rates for “specialized services”, which is quite a vague term that can mean almost any service. An amendment was added to prevent this from happening.

Although the EU law is not perfect, it promises much better protection of net neutrality than its counterpart in the U.S., where similar legislation was struck down earlier this year. AT&T’s “sponsored data” scheme may be one benefactor.

Net Neutrality

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Andrew J. Blanche

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