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Neelie Kroes backs the open internet and net neutrality

To safeguard what liberty there is
Thu Jul 18 2013, 12:15
European digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes

EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) VP for the digital agenda Neelie Kroes has spoken up about the importance of a free and open internet and net neutrality.

Kroes, who is the EC's digital champion, addresses this subject often.

"The internet is a wonderful tool for openness, freedom and innovation. No wonder it is so important to so many citizens. And no wonder the debate over 'net neutrality' can seem so charged," she said.

"For me this debate is not about dogma and slogans - it's about understanding what's important online, and preserving it. It's a complex debate about a complex network. A debate where we must understand, not just the struggles of the past, but the opportunities of the future."

According to Kroes, Europeans are being presented with a brick wall when it comes to some online services and are being "treated badly" by local ISPs.

"Currently too many Europeans find that services are blocked and throttled by their internet provider. I believe every European should have access to the full and open internet, absolutely guaranteed, without such discrimination," she added.

"And I know consumers are fed up with being treated badly. Fed up with their operator retrospectively and untransparently changing their terms and conditions. And fed up with contracts that don't tell you what speed and quality you'll actually get. In a competitive, transparent market, consumers should know what they're getting and should be able to vote with their feet... Safeguarding access to the open internet - access for all - is my priority."

Earlier this week Kroes pulled out a tiny violin and played out a sad song for mobile operators that are worried about losing out on lucrative roaming fees.

Under the headline "mobile roaming and the four stages of grief" she hit back at moaning mobile industry apologists who claimed that the loss of wanderer cash will harm European mobile networks and infrastructure investment.

"Investment is weak in Europe; but it has been so for some time. In particular, investment was hardly stronger in the era of data roaming rip-offs - an era which, let's remember, only ended in 2012," she said.

"The fact is, if anything, roaming revenues tend to contribute to cash expenditure rather than investment capability. Likewise, bringing down roaming costs over recent years has not had an impact on domestic call prices, which have continued to fall in the EU's competitive market." µ


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