AN EU REPORT on net neutrality has been heavily criticised as extremely disappointing by those supporting freedom of communications on the Internet.
The report, which was published today by Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, makes a number of recommendations on how the European Union should approach net neutrality, but Internet freedom advocacy group La Quadrature du Net said that the report fails to include any convincing policy to protect a free, open and neutral Internet.
The group said that Kroes is hiding behind false free-market arguments and turning net neutrality into a mere competition issue.
The report suggests that 'bad press' and consumer outrage will solve any difficulties where companies break net neutrality rules, destroying hopes that the European Commission would penalise Internet service providers (ISPs) that discriminate between different forms of Internet traffic.
La Quadrature du Net finds fault with this, as many users have no choice but to stick with their current ISP since there are no other options available to them. These users, usually in remote areas, will be forced to put up with whatever their ISP does or not have access to the Internet at all.
"This very disappointing report contrasts with Commissioner Neelie Kroes' multiple statements regarding the importance of preserving net neutrality in order to protect EU citizens' fundamental freedoms," said Félix Tréguer, head of policy and legal affairs at La Quadrature du Net.
"Quite shockingly, the Commission thinks that net neutrality is compatible with traffic differentiation on the public Internet. This clearly favors telecoms operators who want to boost their profit margins by discriminating users' communications."
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, also criticised the idea of companies discriminating traffic, saying they should not be allowed to do that. He said that this approach is not what the open market is about and that the companies gain complete control of people, which is lucrative for business but can curb the kind of innovation that we currently see on the Internet. µ
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