BM 65 – The European Commission is threatening the open and neutral internet

11.12.2013
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The European Students’ Union believes that an open and neutral internet is essential for every democratic society. This fundamental principle of the internet is threatened by the European Commission’s regulatory proposal for a Connected Continent, which is aiming at the digital single market.

The regulation legalises “specialised services” that allow commercially motivated preferential treatment for big internet companies (mostly based in the USA) who can afford to buy the fast-access connection-lane in a two-tier internet system. These specialised services together with an “assured service quality” would erode the success formula of the internet’s innovative capacity, its’ emancipatory value for democracies and the educational benefits of the free and equal flow of information in the 21st century. Nowadays a teacher needs to rely on every student’s capacity to access information on his or her point of internet access that is open, uncensored and equal.

The European Commissioner Neelie Kroes started her term in 2010 with an announcement to safeguard net neutrality and not allow a commercially motivated preferential treatment of the internet. Now, as her term comes to an end, she is proposing exactly the opposite and follows the one-sided wishes of the telecommunications industry. The impact of this new regulation on the free flow of information would be devastating and irreversible. Introducing preferential treatment would also impact students on many levels, since many student representatives cannot afford to pay for a fast-lane connection or compete with big companies.

Also, this proposal stands in conflict with the Commission’s own communication on ‘Opening up Education’ (COM(2013) 654), which states that open online resources on educational materials should be facilitated and Member States are encouraged to connect every school and individual classrooms.

Therefore, the European Students’ Union strongly stands against these new regulations and will raise a discussion on this in the European Parliament. ESU calls for MEPs to not accept the Commission’s regulation proposal as it is and amend it to ensure that the principle of net neutrality will be respected on the basis of the good examples of the Dutch and Slovenian net neutrality laws.

Further information:

https://unsernetz.at/files/Handout_EUVO.pdf?  (german)

https://unsernetz.at/dokumente/ (german)

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-779_en.htm (english)

http://ec.europa.eu/education/news/doc/openingcom_en.pdf

http://www.edri.org/files/paper08_netneutrality.pdf (english)

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