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European Parliament backs Net Neutrality

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Thu Apr 03 2014, 13:20
European Parliament

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has voted in favour of protecting net neutrality and an open and fair local telecoms system.

European People's Party (EPP) MEP Pilar del Castillo, who was responsible for the supported draft regulation, said that it will shore up net neutrality and draw a line under high costs for telecoms services. The rules will come into force before the end of next year.

"[The parliament has taken] a great step towards the strengthening of the Telecommunications Single Market," she said.

"We have not only proposed to abolish retail roaming charges for voice, SMS and data services by 15 December 2015, but we are also bringing forward substantial provisions such as on efficient spectrum management that will allow 4G and 5G deployment throughout Europe."

The rules will limit costs for SMS, roaming and data downloads, and will ensure that high traffic services and users are not punished financially.

"Specialised services are currently being offered throughout Europe. Clear examples are high definition IPTV, video-conferencing, data intensive cloud computing or healthcare services like telemedicine, and their future development presents a great window of opportunities for consumers," added the Spanish MEP.

"In order to truly foster a strong competitive economy, businesses should continue to be free to develop their own business models, providers of content and services should not be an exception."

Last month the European Parliament was accused of backing watered down rules that were open to interpretation, but no such concerns were voiced today.

European Commission VP for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes has been an outspoken supporter of net neutrality, and she welcomed the news in a stream of Twitter messages.

"Couldn't be happier!! Great result in EU Parl in favour of #ConnectedContinent !!" she said. "People say EU can't deliver, is slow etc - they are wrong! Today we deliver."

European Digital Rights group (EDRi) also gladly accepted the result, as did digital access group Access.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, a Green MEP for northern Germany, thanked all parties for backing the rules.

Pirate Party European parliamentary candidate Jack Allnutt said that European Parliament backing will bring many benefits to member states.

"Net Neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic is treated equally without discrimination. It's this ideal that has been the norm as the internet first developed," he said.

"The adoption of the amendments that support true Net Neutrality in Europe is a huge step forward in protecting innovation, economic growth, small businesses and free speech. With these amendments, the European Parliament has signalled that it is not content to hand power to large, unaccountable companies. This is a huge step forward and a significant victory for us all." µ


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