On December 17, Mexico’s Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) opened a public consultation on the Draft Guidelines for traffic management and internet administration. Through this exercise, the IFT is at long last complying with its promise to protect Net Neutrality in line with the 2014 Federal Law of Telecommunications and Broadcasting reform.
Unlike the reform, the Draft Guidelines threaten Net Neutrality by allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to engage in the harmful practice of paid priority — giving preferential treatment to certain content over others in exchange for payment — and zero rating —exempting certain services from a data cap.
“The Draft Guidelines are Net Neutrality in name only,” said Eric Null, U.S. Policy Manager and Global Net Neutrality Lead at Access Now. “Allowing internet service providers to engage in paid priority and zero rating simply gives ISPs another way to violate the principles and purpose of Net Neutrality, and harms the Mexican people’s ability to use the internet free from undue ISP influence. Unless the IFT reverses course, it will leave Mexico with an internet that more so resembles cable TV than the internet of today. Worse yet, the Draft Guidelines give the government the authority to order internet shutdowns, an act we strongly oppose. The government has no business turning off the internet, and explicitly allowing for such action in Net Neutrality regulations is deceitful and wrong.”
“Amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clearer than ever before that the internet is essential for the exercise of human rights,” said Luis Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of R3D. “Without effective mechanisms to protect Net Neutrality, the internet is at the mercy of commercial interests that prioritize profits over public interest.”
In addition to these concerns, there is a conspicuous lack of protections for user privacy in the Draft Guidelines. Without strong safeguards, ISPs are not likely to protect customer data.
In March of this year, Access Now, along with a coalition of consumer advocacy organizations that includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, National Hispanic Media Coalition, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and Public Knowledge submitted comments urging the IFT to strengthen its Net Neutrality proposal. At the same time, advocates came together to create the Salvemos Internet coalition to help facilitate IFT comment filing. The deadline for submission is July 15, and, to date, over 130,000 comments have been filed.
Access Now is optimistic that Mexico’s IFT will heed the calls of human rights and public interest advocates in defending Net Neutrality.