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EU Commissioner: I Will End Net Neutrality Waiting Game 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the net-neutrality-action-heroine dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from ZDNet: "Europeans are a step closer to seeing new net neutrality rules put in place, after the release of an EU regulators' report on how often ISPs and operators throttle their services. On Tuesday, digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said the release of the report from by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) means she will make recommendations to the EU on preserving net neutrality, which aims to make sure ISPs do not unfairly restrict customers from accessing the service or application or their choice. 'BEREC has today provided the data I was waiting for (PDF). For most Europeans, their internet access works well most of the time. But these findings show the need for more regulatory certainty and that there are enough problems to warrant strong and targeted action to safeguard consumers,' Kroes said in a statement. 'Given that BEREC's findings highlight a problem of effective consumer choice, I will prepare recommendations to generate more real choices and end the net neutrality waiting game in Europe,' she added."
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EU Commissioner: I Will End Net Neutrality Waiting Game

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  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @05:31PM (#40148591)
    Let me guess -- ISPs cannot restrict access to websites in order to profit, but governments can order ISPs to restrict access to websites to protect the profits of entertainment companies?
    • by eggstasy (458692) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:57PM (#40151607) Journal

      I think you're confusing us with America. The US produces almost all the (mass-market) content in the world and, well, Europe is composed of 45 countries. The EU is not a cohesive country either - there's 27 of us. We all have different laws and we're bound together by separate treaties, most of which only include parts of Europe, some which even include non-EU countries. The Euro zone (common currency) is one thing, the Schengen space (freedom of travel) is another one, etc.

      It's very very complicated - but we're not a federation and what the bureaucrats do in Brussels is largely their problem. We're hardly ever *forced* to agree - the guy did say "reccomendation". We generally agree on implementing reccomendations when the public supports it. I believe this will be the case with Net Neutrality, and France can go on pretending it's still a major power in the world, and that we all give a damn about what it does.

      The vast majority of countries in Europe do not have opressive ISP policies or draconian copyright law enforcement, so the whole net neutrality thing won't even register on our radar.

      (I'm not a politician, so I could be wrong on the whole EU thing)

    • If the EU follows the Dutch model (the Dutch just got their own net neutrality), then... Yes. You're right.

      Still, it's a step in the right direction. Could be worse. Far worse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @05:32PM (#40148603)

    Hollywood got back to us, and said we couldn't do it.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @05:40PM (#40148713)

    "You cannot block any website...... except pornography. Or bittorrent sites. Those you can block and in fact, we DEMAND you block them."

    • by Spad (470073) <slashdot@NOSpam.spad.co.uk> on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:06PM (#40149027) Homepage

      Net Neutrality is not really anything to do with censorship, it's about ensuring that - for example - Google doesn't pay your ISP to prioritise all Google.com traffic over other search engines or that BSkyB doesn't pay them to cripple access to the BBC News site while leaving Sky News untouched.

      I'm not in favour of censorship for any reason, but it's not helpful to conflate it with net neutrality.

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:11PM (#40149085)
        From TFA:

        Third, consumers also need to know if they are getting Champagne or lesser sparkling wine. If it is not full Internet, it shouldnâ(TM)t be marketed as such; perhaps it shouldnâ(TM)t be marketed as âoeInternetâ at all, at least not without any upfront qualification. Regulators should have that kind of control over how ISPs market the service.

        (Emphasis mine)

        Sounds to me like no ISP in any country that orders a block on, say, TBP, should be able to market itself as providing Internet access under this proposal.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          It's funny you bring that up (champagne). A few months ago the E.U. regulators forced wine-growers in England to stop calling it wine.

          Instead it must be labled "alcoholic beverage containing fermented juice". It was done to protect the wine industries of the mainland Europe, rather than any desire to protect consumers. i.e. It was done by bought-and-paid-for technocrats... similar to how it operates in the U.S. with the FCC and other bureaucrats getting sweet post-government jobs with megacorps.

          • I'm going to have to ask for a source for that, because somehow I managed to miss it being reported in the UK press, and it didn't seem to prevent the beer festival that I attended last week from having a stall full of British wines, described as wines...
            • by houghi (78078)

              Perhaps he was talking about Champagne, which can only come from the Champagne region. Just like certain other products can only come from certain regions.

              It is a bit like trademarks.

              • This isn't a new ruling, however - certainly not something from a few months ago. The UK has accepted AOC regulations for over a hundred years, since the Treaty of Madrid in 1891. The USA rejected them. The AOC regulations are now protected by the PDO framework, which also protects things like Stilton cheese. As you say, they're a form of trademark. You can't call just any sparkling wine Champagne (as you can in the USA), because doing so would be trading on the reputation earned by French vineyards ov

          • by Smauler (915644) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:41PM (#40149511)

            This is false, wrong, bullshit, or whatever else you want to call it.

            What the EU has banned is the labelling of the wine as wine if it is produced with grapes sourced outside the EU. Which I think is personally a bit stupid, but it's a different issue entirely. It's nothing to do with protecting the wine industries of mainland Europe, since the ruling applies to them too. English wine is still wine (well, as much as it ever was ;P).

            Actually, I'm being a bit unfair with that last snarky comment - there are some great English whites and sparkling wines... never had a good English red yet, though.

            On topic - I think this ruling will hopefully be a good thing for the consumer - currently, ISP's can decide how you use the internet with little or no regulation.

          • by rockout (1039072) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:47PM (#40149581)
            I dunno. After having consumed English "alcoholic beverage containing fermented juice", I wouldn't call it wine either.
          • by Teun (17872)
            You should stop reading the crappy UK tabloids.

            What happened is you can no longer call "an alcoholic beverage containing fermented juice" wine unless it's made from 100% grapes.

      • um, no, you're wrong... well, I suppose that was a VERY early concern, but it hasn't arisen. What's actually happening is your ISP has installed enough equipment to deliver a certain amount of bandwidth to your "neighborhood" for lack of a better layman word. When everyone in the neighborhood gets home and jumps on whatever the latest craze is, lets say netflix, bandwidth spikes. Netflix has no incentive to make their service intelligent in anyway... for example, they could give you a discount if you queue
        • by pantaril (1624521)

          It's clearly ISP fault and they won't fix it by limiting traffic to netflix. People will just switch to other sources od video, like p2p.

          ISP should carefully watch the total amount of bandwidth his customers are using. He should scale his infrastructure and his tarif speeds to match that traffic. He should also charge apropriate monthly fees so he can support the growth of his infrastructure (switching to fiber etc).

      • by click2005 (921437) *

        Dont forget services such as VoIP that probably directly eats into your ISP's profits.
        IMs are replacing texts (which can make phone companies around $10000 per MB).

        In the future more entertainment will be streamed & downloaded. We'll possibly end up
        with a pay-per-view system of some kind but your ISP will want you to pay them for it too.
        They've been trying to extort money with BBC Iplayer.

        Hopefully in the future it might also stop evil companies like Phorm & BT from stripping
        charity adverts from pag

      • ... or that ISPs / providers of infrastructure don't demand from Google that they pay ...
    • by Teun (17872)
      There are no exceptions to NN.
      But it will be possible for ISP's to sell additional services like religious or child safe filters.
      These will have to be charged for separately and can not be included in the basic offering.
      The blocking of a Pirate Bay is an entirely different matter, it is ordered by a court, not written in the (NN) law.
  • an aside... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    For most Europeans, their internet access works well most of the time. But these findings show the need for more regulatory certainty and that there are enough problems to warrant strong and targeted action to safeguard consumers,

    As an aside, really: has a regulatory agency ever NOT found a need for more regulations and regulatory actions? Just seems kind of dog-bites-man.

    • by Teun (17872)
      Regulation is generally of benefit in situations where parties engaged in an activity are not of comparable strength.
      In this case it's to protect the individual consumer against the few rather powerful ISP's.
      EU regulation is generally written with the consumer in mind.

      Commissioner Kroes is a member of the Dutch Liberal party called VVD, in the Dutch political context liberal means pro-Free Trade and in the case of the VVD Anti-Socialist but not necessarily against social.

  • by arisvega (1414195) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @05:49PM (#40148825)
    See? Europe is the best country in the world.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not before marijuana gets legalized by EU directive.

      • Why limit yourself to legalizing only one drug? How about ending the war on drugs entirely?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          When you do it gradually, you face less resistance than trying to push it through wholesale.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>Not before marijuana gets legalized by EU directive.

        It is more likely marijuana will be OUTLAWED by EU directive, as happened in that other union known as the U.S. What was once illegal in a some states is now illegal across a whole continent.

        Therefore I advise you not to be so quick to give up individual sovereignty of the states (aka States' Rights)...... because central control is likely to be less liberty-oriented and more tyranny. Plus central control is less apt to hear the voices of the

        • by ewieling (90662)
          In my opinion the greatest threat to Europe is not the financial crisis, the movie studios, or censorship. The number one threat is member countries giving up autonomy while trying to solve the financial crisis, copyright infringement, etc.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nah, that's Chile, where we already have net neutraility.

  • The mind boggling thing is that we are still actually arguing the need for this in the U.S.

    When ATT was the phone company we made DAMN certain it couldn't extend or leverage its monopoly position. Stopping ISPs from leveraging their monopoly duopoly position to controlling your content choices is a no brainer.

    • Few people argue against net neutrality in principle. The hard part is coming up with laws. People in the US who argue against net neutrality laws generally don't say they are against net neutrality... just that they don't think they know what the law should be and that the current ISPs are not violating it much.

      Yes, you want to make sure monopolies don't exploit their position. BUT, you also you want to make sure the ISPs are capable of managing their network.

      I've worked in the telecom equipment space,

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>Customers will complain their skype call or video is jittery. They don't care so much about background downloads.

        ISPs could control this very easily by imposing data caps, and charging extra when you go over them. That would force the leechers to cut back on their downloads, and thus free-up space for people to make Skype calls. (They could also try installing an extra parallel cable, thus doubling the available bandwidth.)

        As for jittery video, the internet is less-prone to jitter than broadca

      • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:36PM (#40149439) Journal

        Customers will complain their skype call or video is jittery. They don't care so much about background downloads.

        But when their Vonage calls are always jittery while their Comcast/Xfinity calls work Just Fine, that's when things start to smell funny, with or without background downloads.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        Few people argue against net neutrality in principle. The hard part is coming up with laws. People in the US who argue against net neutrality laws generally don't say they are against net neutrality... just that they don't think they know what the law should be and that the current ISPs are not violating it much.

        I would argue that the regular people against "net neutrality" in the US know exactly why they're against it. Because all the legislation proposed so far that has been billed as "net neutrality" with hopeful-sounding titles has had very little to do with *actual* net neutrality (throttling, etc), but have been principally about government gaining more control over the internet.

        We're still waiting for a *real* net neutrality bill to be introduced in the US Congress that does not also hand the government far

        • by kqs (1038910)

          I would argue that the regular people against "net neutrality" in the US know exactly why they're against it. Because all the legislation proposed so far that has been billed as "net neutrality" with hopeful-sounding titles has had very little to do with *actual* net neutrality (throttling, etc), but have been principally about government gaining more control over the internet.

          We're still waiting for a *real* net neutrality bill to be introduced in the US Congress that does not also hand the government far more control & regulatory power over the internet (or at least one that hasn't been instantly killed by one or both sides because of that lack).

          Strat

          Well, you're technically correct. The "net neutrality" proposals in the US have tried to add government regulation to force AT&T, Verizon, etc to treat all packets the same. You may want the "net neutrality" which allows ISPs to share $50/GB for Netflix and Skype packets, and $1/GB for Xfinity packets.

          For some reason, most of the "government will control our lives" rants I've heard recently are traceable back to lobbyist companies paid by large companies. You see, lobbyists know that "the government

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            Well, you're technically correct. The "net neutrality" proposals in the US have tried to add government regulation to force AT&T, Verizon, etc to treat all packets the same.

            That's the point. The "necessary regulations" to establish/enforce actual ISP network practices for net neutrality would take up only a few pages. That's not the part people have a problem with.

            What comes before Congress is one of those abominations that wipe out whole forests to print out. Then it gets metric crap-tons of amendments and riders added to it that make it even more of a stinker. One is lucky if the part about actual net neutrality can even be found without a syllabus or table of contents...tha

      • The proper solution is to give each subscriber a share of the available bandwidth based on their subscribed plan or SLA and then allow them to specify how to prioritize the traffic within their share. If they want their VoIP packets to take priority over their bittorrent download they could specify that, but they shouldn't be able to have their VoIP packets take priority over *my* bittorrent download.

        Sure this takes shaping resources, but the cost of that is dropping constantly.

        • Again, largely theoretical. It also complicates the purchasing experience. There's also the issue of client applications. How do you detect them? How do you make sure they are obeying their protocol? What if a user intends to throttle bit torrent traffic thinking it is for downloads... but this accidentally hits their World of Warcraft traffic too? And of course the complexity of traffic shaping added into the whole mix.

          I don't really know of any proper solution for the mass market.

          At one time I thoug

  • by killfixx (148785) * on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @05:59PM (#40148933) Journal

    I've been trying to wrap my head around this for some time now.

    As the internet becomes more important for global commercial and cultural enrichment, the US insists on stripping away rights and freedoms that we, as Americans, have come to cherish.

    And 99%* of Americans couldn't possibly care less. (*hyperbole)

    Yet, the more restrictive and draconian our policies become, the more that the EU seems to protecting these rights.

    The only reason I can see is that Americans have a different societal outlook. Americans value possession (having stuff) above all else.
    It's all about our stuff. We are the pre-schoolers (kindergarten, etc...) of global politics. Both literally (youngest 1st world country) and figuratively (we are the whiniest bunch of brats). How many Americans can name 5 neighbors (different households)? How many Americans still eat a weekly meal with non-nuclear family members?

    I love America, (it's where I keep all my stuff) but enough is enough. I'm seriously considering emigrating. I live in New England and from what I've seen and read, northern Europe (Denmark, Finland, Norway, etc...) all seem to have "similar" weather and significantly better socio-political climates.

    This country needs a serious re-tuning. Not sure how or by who, but please let it be for the better.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by volmtech (769154)
      The major problem with the Northeast is too many da** Yankees. About ten percent of the population of Florida is from the North and that's more than I can stand. I don't see how you get anything done when everyone around you is a Yankee. Yankee= loud mouthed, opinionated person from up north, Jersey shore types are the worst. I'm sure they're many decent people in the Northeast and maybe the we ones we have down here are just the ones you decent people kicked out.
    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @06:27PM (#40149315)
      We separated from England because we didn't get a vote on taxes, yet didn't give most of our citizens the right to vote. We decided we weren't going to be a colony anymore, then went about making our own colonies (and were much more parasitic about it than the English). We prided ourselves on self-sustinence and freedom yet had slave labor long past the point where most other civilized countries had abolished it. And from the outset there were innumerable screwings-over of the previous inhabitants.

      It's not like we've only -recently- become hypocrites.
      • You don't understand. Ferengi workers don't want to stop the exploitation, we want to find a way to become the exploiters.

        -Rom. Star Trek Deep Space Nine, "Bar Association [memory-alpha.org]"

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>Yet, the more restrictive and draconian our policies become, the more that the EU seems to protecting these rights.

      SEEMS is the keyword. The EU is actually very restrictive. Just search youtube for MEP Nigel Farage and listen to his persuasive comments about how the U.S. enjoys more freedom than his own home the EU. (Also take a listen to other UKIP members.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree with you, but keep in mind that in europe the culture is different, the role of the government is far bigger than here (as well as taxes), an europeans like it.

      For example, an average employee in Germany pays more than 40% of his/her income in taxes. Of course they have public healthcare, a generous public pension system, etc... and nobody (not even the conservative parties) wants to privatize them, that's not the kind of "freedom" that they like.

      You will never ever hear europeans saying bizarre thi

    • by FridayBob (619244) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @08:39PM (#40150639) Homepage

      Yet, the more restrictive and draconian our policies become, the more that the EU seems to protecting these rights.

      My commiserations. Being Dutch, I felt proud today, because of both of the Dutch Government rejecting ACTA and Neelie Kroes (who is also Dutch) standing up for Net Neutrality. But, I'm also an American, so I find it depressing when I read about how badly the Internet is being treated in the country of its birth. The only things to cheer about are when really bad laws manage to be defeated at the last moment. Still, having spent the first 13 years of my life there, part of me will always want to believe that America is the #1 defender of freedom and democracy in the world.

      Intellectually, however, I know that isn't really true anymore and hasn't been for quite some time. More than ever before, America now resembles a plutocracy [wikipedia.org]. Sure, all Americans are equal, but the ones with lots of money are definitely more equal than the rest. Of course, it's still a democracy, so statistically this isn't always reflected in the guy who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but just take a look at Congress: the majority of those folks are there because they agreed to primarily to look after the financial interests of the few (in which case everything else comes a distant second).

      Therefore, it's not really a surprise to see the Internet being treated poorly in the good ol' U.S. of A. -- too many Corporations are just not happy with it. They would agree with the Chinese that it affords the common man too much freedom; during arguments, they've even mentioned the Great Firewall of China as an example of how large-scale Internet censorship can also be made to work in America. So, what can we do about it?

      The only real solution that I can think of is to tackle the root the problem: to get money out of politics. Take a look at this book [wikipedia.org]. That's one set of solutions; it may not be the best, but nothing less than real campaign finance reform is what Americans should aim for. If successful, I think we can expect American politicians to become rather different animals: ones that will actually be capable of rational thought, finding common ground with their opponents, compromising when necessary and otherwise just plain capable of making good decisions.

      • by cpghost (719344)

        The only real solution that I can think of is to tackle the root the problem: to get money out of politics.

        I'm afraid, this won't happen. Even if you ban money contributions to campaigns etc., it will simply shift into the black market (outright corruption), or turn out to be some kind of post facto corruption, where the politicians reap their "rewards" later when they leave office (like Gerhard Schroeder in Germany e.g.).

        • by FridayBob (619244)

          ... Even if you ban money contributions to campaigns etc., it will simply shift into the black market (outright corruption), or turn out to be some kind of post facto corruption, where the politicians reap their "rewards" later when they leave office (like Gerhard Schroeder in Germany e.g.).

          Don't be so cynical; not all corruption is equal. To some degree corruption will always exist in every government, but once it has become institutionalized -- even legitimized -- then it's really time to do something about it. I don't think the level of political corruption in Germany can in any way be compared to that in the United States.

      • Of course, it's still a democracy ...

        I would call it a Corporatocracy [wikipedia.org]. Also, the fact that you cannot directly vote seriously hinders any chance of democracy. The indirect voting system makes sure that only one or two parties will have any chance at all. And those will not be the parties that dare to change.

        • by FridayBob (619244)

          I would call it a Corporatocracy [wikipedia.org]. Also, the fact that you cannot directly vote seriously hinders any chance of democracy. The indirect voting system makes sure that only one or two parties will have any chance at all. And those will not be the parties that dare to change.

          A "corporatocracy" -- I like that. Sounds like it's perhaps an even better description.

          As for the American two-party winner-takes-all system, I would agree that it is hardly the most democratic solution out there and may be more vulnerable to corruption than others. However, if enough outside money and influence is entered into the equation, I think even the most idealistic system of democracy can be made hopelessly corrupt and ineffective. Therefore, campaign finance reform should still be the top prior

  • I demand transport neutrality! Why should those rich businesses that can afford "central" locations get a convenient subway / metro / tube station within convenient walking distance, while smaller businesses in the suburbs are served only by bus? It serves only to reenforce the growth of the already successful! The population should demand that the transport service providers give equal access to all businesses that reach their customers via that infrastructure.

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