NINETEEN TECHNOLOGY HEAVYWEIGHTS have written to the UK Communications Minister and urged him to cement the Government's stance on the open Internet.
The open letter, which is addressed to Ed Vaizey, Jeremey Hunt and Vince Cable, said that rather than just support the idea of the open Internet in principle the Government should preserve it with legislation and enforcement from Ofcom. This they added will protect Internet users and keep ISPs from abusing their dominant position.
The letter, which is undersigned by firms including Yahoo and Ebay, Skype and Which?, as well as the National Union of Journalists and the Open Rights Group, starts with some good words for the minister.
Responding to comments Vaizey made in November, which referred to the need to provide consumers with decent service while also allowing ISPs to innovate, they said, "This is the first time that such a clear political commitment has been made in the UK to preserve the end-to-end principle that underpins the Internet, and the benefits it brings to citizens, consumers, businesses and economic growth."
However, words are one thing, and the nineteen firms said that there should be five principles put in place to preserve the openness of the Internet.
In the letter they argued that the Internet should always remain open, and that users should be able to use the services that they want on the devices of their choice, within the law. Traffic management should be kept to a minimum, they added, and there should be "no discrimination in the treatment of Internet traffic".
The third principle is that where traffic management is used, information about its use should be provided to stakeholders, customers and users, while fourth is the recommendation that future investment network capacity and infrastructure be supported, within the parameters of a fair and open Internet.
Finally, they asked that all this be shrouded in a regulatory framework that is fit for purpose and gives regulators, in this case Ofcom, the ability to react quickly to abuses from ISPs and network providers.
A better backed Ofcom is expected to be able to preserve the rights of Internet users, the letter said, and although it recommended that ISPs draw up their own code of conduct, it added that should they fail to do this then the watchdog should step in and do something about it.
"The Government's commitment to the open Internet must be reflected in action on the ground to remove any such arbitrary restrictions to the open Internet", the letter added. "We also recommend the Government's policies on the open Internet and traffic management take account of citizens' access to public services online in the future." µ
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