In a joint letter, 72 civil society organisations from more than 25 countries today call on European telecoms regulators to uphold Net Neutrality. The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) and the 28 telecoms regulators are currently developing guidelines for implementing the EU law on the open internet that was adopted last year (the Telecoms Single Market Regulation, or TSM).
Europe is in the final stages of the fight for Net Neutrality. These guidelines represents a unique opportunity to clarify the ambiguous elements of the recently adopted Net Neutrality law and bring predictability. The regulators have until August 2016 to finalise the guidelines and will hold a 20 working-day public consultation from June to July.
“The TSM regulation has set the stage for Net Neutrality to be delivered across all 28 EU member states. The regulators must now complement the work of the legislators by clearly delineating strong rules for Net Neutrality in the EU, for the benefit of every internet user in Europe,” said Estelle Massé, EU policy analyst at Access Now. “Vague guidelines would leave it up to the courts to bring clarity to the law, thus further delaying the implementation of Net Neutrality across the EU.”
The letter calls on the telecoms regulators to:
- Carefully consider the implementation of so-called specialised services. Guidelines must reaffirm the Net Neutrality safeguards and avoid establishing fast lanes.
- Confirm the ban on “zero rating” articulated under the regulation. Zero rating is a harmful practice that restricts consumer choice, distorts competition, undermines the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information, and restricts the freedom to conduct business, which are protected under the TSM regulation and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
- Clarify the application-agnostic implementation of traffic management measures. Discriminatory traffic-management practices risk harming user choice and would contradict requirements established under the TSM Regulation.
“After the United States and India, the world is now watching the work of EU Regulators on Net Neutrality,” added Massé. “A decision from BEREC not to uphold Net Neutrality protections would put the EU at odds with the rest of the world, ignore the economic benefits of the open internet, and undermine internet users’ rights and freedoms. We urge regulators to make the right choice.”