While European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes was expected to publish the official proposal for a Regulation of the Telecom Single Market today, the announcement has been pushed back to allow for changes following significant concerns raised by other Commissioners on this hotly-debated legislation.
Contrary to Commissioner Kroes’ statements that the Regulation would protect an open and neutral internet, leaks of the initial drafts of the Regulation disappointingly revealed an attack on net neutrality (find the most recent leak here). A further leaked internal document published this morning by European Digital Rights (EDRi), showed that various services of the European Commission share the concerns raised by civil society groups.
In particular, DG Justice raised concerns that the Regulation could undermine fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression. The document also warns of the dangers of encouraging preferential agreements between content and access providers, saying, “If not properly ring-fenced, the unlimited contractual freedom of content providers to agree on priority treatment of their content with ISPs will lead to unintended anti-competitive and discriminatory consequences in the medium long term.”
The Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry is equally concerned that such an undermining of net neutrality would have an adverse effect on EU entrepreneurs, an element ironically highlighted by Commissioner Kroes herself only a few short months ago.
As result of a discussion held this afternoon in Strasbourg – as reported to Reuters by an EU senior official – 25 Commissioners to 3 agreed that the proposed text still needs significant improvement, particularly on the aspects relating to net neutrality.
The College of European Commissioners has delayed the publication of the Regulation until September 12. It is yet to be seen if and to what degree the draft will be changed, however, if adequately amended it could mean strong, binding legislation protecting the principle of net neutrality for the entire continent.