Students criticise a European regulation on a Connected Continent
ZAGREB – The European Students’ Union (ESU) believes that a new regulatory framework, introduced by the European Commission as a proposal for a Connected Continent, threatens the neutrality and openness of the internet. ESU demands that this proposal will be amended to protect net neutrality and will bring this issue up for discussion at the European Parliament.
ESU hopes that the European Parliament will listen to students’ worries and ensure that the proposal will be changed on the basis of good examples of the Dutch and Slovenian net neutrality laws. ESU demands that the European Parliament rejects the proposal unless these critical amendments will be made to ensure that the principle of net neutrality will be respected in the future.
These concerns were raised in a resolution adopted by delegates of national unions of students participating in the 65th Board Meeting of ESU, held in Zagreb, Croatia, in the beginning of December. In the resolution, the national unions of students remind policy makers in Europe how essential it is for democratic societies to have an open and neutral internet.
A digital single market
The new regulatory framework for a Connected Continent is introduced by the European Commission as part of its work to strengthen the digital single market in Europe. The regulation legalises “specialised services” that allow commercially motivated preferential treatment for big internet companies that can afford to buy fast-access connection lanes 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 resolution adopted at ESU’s Board Meeting emphasised.
A different perspective
When Neelie Kroes started her term in 2010 as a European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, she announced that she would safeguard the neutrality of the internet and prohibit a commercially motivated preferential treatment of it. Students are worried that the European Commissioner is now heading in an opposite direction at the end of her term, by following 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,” the resolution states.
See a full version of the resolution here.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.