European telecom corporations are celebrating their triumph with net neutrality rules finally being enacted in Europe, as the process enters the final stage. The proposal has been regarded as a major blow to net neutrality in Europe, as it empowers ISPs to throttle Torrent software and VPNs.
Regulations are in the final stages of public comments, and once the European Parliament adopts them they will become law. However, these new regulations contain major loopholes, which internet activists believe threaten the open internet in the EU.
What is Net Neutrality?
The underlying principle of net neutrality is that all traffic or data on the web is equal, and no one should be provided preferential treatments of “high speed’ for extra amount. The net neutrality basically brings tech giants like Google on the same playing field as small companies or startups.
Net neutrality rules demand that there will be no discrimination against a particular user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. Therefore, ISPs cannot throttle, block or censor any content for anyone online in the EU.
Traffic Throttling will be Legal
The broadly defined provisions in the new under-consideration net neutrality proposal has developed concerns amongst internet activists as they believe various loopholes in the legislation will be exploited by ISPs to affect the websites & services they access. The primary issue with the current Net Neutrality proposal is that it permits traffic management on class basis. This would enable EU ISPs to throttle BitTorrent, VPNs, and video streaming whenever they want.
According to Barbara van Schewick (Director – Center for Internet & Society, Professor of Law) the proposal poses a substantial risk to protocols and services of file-sharing. Moreover, the Professor of Law at Stanford, Schewick said that ISPs can now create classes for traffic, and can lower or increase the speed even when there is no congestion. This means that ISPs can put encrypted data into the slow lane, simply because they cannot determine what it is.
According to the net neutrality proposal, ISPs are allowed to discriminate against an entire class of traffic in the name of traffic management. ISPs can divide traffic into classes like P2P, video streaming, or encrypted (VPN). Moreover, ISPs can throttle one class of traffic even if it is consuming less bandwidth than the other class.
After debating the ways to approach net neutrality for many years, European politicians have devised this faulty proposal. Though some amendments have been introduced to cover these loopholes, but these amendments will only be effective if they are adopted by European Parliament with a majority.
During this final phase of public comment, some digital rights groups have created platforms like Savenetneutrality.eu and Savetheinternet.eu, where citizens of EU can document their concerns over the proposal.
— bEO barfuß (@white_punx) July 2, 2016