As TSM moves to plenary, the future of Net Neutrality in Europe remains unclear

Brussels, Belgium – On 27 October, 2015 the European Parliament will vote in plenary on the Telecoms Single Market (TSM) regulation, legislation that could bring Net Neutrality to the 28 EU member states.

While the framework still has the potential to create clear rules on Net Neutrality for all member states, Access Now is concerned that the text currently lacks clarity. If the text is approved in its current form, it will leave Net Neutrality rules to be determined by courts or EU telecommunications regulators. Until then, telecommunications providers would have wiggle room to carry out discriminatory practices to increase profits at the expense of consumers and the free and open internet.

To rectify the situation, legislators have now advanced amendments in four specific areas of the legislation. These amendments would bring the text in line with the original, unambiguous vision for Net Neutrality in Europe:

  • All traffic must be treated equally. Currently the text would allow internet service providers to distinguish between “types of traffic.” This must be prevented to ensure that all traffic is treated equally, and that no type of traffic, such as encrypted data, is deliberately slowed down.
  • Prevent network discrimination. The current text gives leeway for discrimination within networks. To avoid an internet where corporations could get VIP tickets for prioritised traffic, the TSM text should include clear rules preventing such discrimination.
  • Member states must be allowed to ban zero rating. Currently the TSM text allows companies to pay for free packets, an anticompetitive and discriminatory practice that threatens to create a two-tiered internet. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to reach and build an audience online. Otherwise internet service providers become de facto gatekeepers of the internet, choosing the winners and losers online.
  • Network management must be targeted. In the current draft, providers are allowed to manage network traffic when there is “impending congestion.” This could lead to over-managing traffic, and since the meaning of “impending” is not clearly defined, it opens the door to traffic management for discriminatory purposes. Traffic management must at all times be necessary, targeted, transparent, and in accordance with the law.

“Strong Net Neutrality protection is just few amendments away,” said Estelle Massé, Policy Analyst at Access Now. “We urge members of the Parliament to bring clarity to the TSM by adopting the necessary amendments.”


Media Contact

Estelle Massé
Policy Analyst, Access Now
[email protected]
0032 485 44 54 58