Third European vote on the telecom single market – one more step towards net neutrality

Today, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee of the European Parliament voted on the Telecom Single Market proposal, which includes provisions putting  net neutrality at stake in Europe.

Coming two days after a double “sweet and sour” vote in the Cultural and Education (CULT) and Legal Affairs (JURI) Committees, IMCO’s vote adopted a text which closed several loopholes of the European Commission’s initial proposal on net neutrality.

One step closer to net neutrality in the EU

The IMCO Committee improved the definition of the so-called “specialised services” to ensure that such services are different from the ones offered in the open internet. This will help prevent the creation of a two-tiered internet, where internet services are discriminated against versus those specialised services that use a “fast lane” to reach the users (for more details on this and other loopholes, check out our analysis). While this definition is a good basis to prevent this type of discrimination, some further improvements could be made: For instance, the provision for the use of traffic management measures to ensure an appropriate level of network capacity and quality for specialised services could leave room for discrimination based on content.

The Committee successfully removed the possibility for ISPs to discriminate on connection speeds, quality of service, or block applications and services. They also removed the provision allowing ISPs to conduct law enforcement activities outside the rule of law to “prevent and impede serious crimes.” The definition of “reasonable traffic management” adopted today demonstrates the IMCO Committee members have risen to the challenge by effectively addressing the problematic provisions in the Commission’s proposal.

Next steps

The outcome of this morning’s vote is particularly important. This Committee has shared competences with the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee on the Telecom Proposal, so its decision to support provisions in favour of the open internet will bring the European Parliament closer to adopting binding legislation on net neutrality.

But is not over yet! There are two votes remaining, one in the Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee on February 12th and the final vote in the lead committee — ITRE — on February 27th. The  situation remains critical as the current text proposed by the ITRE Committee risks undermining net neutrality.

We still need your help to protect the open and neutral internet!

A campaign was launched by a coalition of NGOs across Europe, including Access, to provide a platform where you can find more information about the importance of net neutrality, the current proposal and most importantly, ways you can contact your Members of the Parliament. This site is now available in seven languages. Go to savetheinternet.eu to learn more about the issue at stake and take action!