THE ELECTRONIC FREEDOM FOUNDATION has announced a worldwide coalition of organisations dedicated to the fight for net neutrality.
The Global Net Neutrality Coalition defines the term thus: "Net neutrality requires that the internet be maintained as an open platform, on which network providers treat all content, applications and services equally, without discrimination."
Comprising 25 organisations from 19 countries, the coalition will use its site as a repository for information regarding net neutrality laws and legislation in given territories, along with advice on petitioning the relevant authorities to preserve an equal internet for all.
The announcement is clear that it does not want to prevent internet service providers using techniques to ensure smooth traffic, for example preventing DDoS attacks or offering different packages to consumers.
But it does insist that tiering should not be used "as a pretext to police communications on their networks, to bestow unfair commercial advantages on their own or particular third-party content, or to create a walled garden where only certain applications, services or protocols are welcome".
Net neutrality is most recognised as a hot button topic in the US, where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently deliberating on whether to deregulate the internet to allow 'fast' and 'slow' lanes.
A decision in favour of doing so would go against the wishes of over three million commenters who told the FCC that they did not want to see this happen, and President Obama, who publicly came out as a supporter of net neutrality, appealing to the FCC to reclassify broadband as a public utility, thus tightening controls over it.
The issue is relevant around the world, however. Only Brazil and The Netherlands have so far ratified legislation to ensure net neutrality, but the European Union came out squarely in favour of preserving an open internet earlier this year.
However, it has emerged in recent weeks that key stakeholders in the EU have been making overtures about doing exactly the opposite, with plans to open fast lanes for businesses across Europe as part of proposals by the Italian presidency.
EU digital commissioner Günther Oettinger said last week that it was more important to ensure rural broadband availability than to preserve net neutrality, suggesting that broadband providers ought to be able to "reap the benefits" of supplying less financially viable locations. µ
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