MEPs back net neutrality

A resolution passed by the European Parliament has called for the Internet to be kept “open and neutral”, and that attempts to infringe on net neutrality should be blocked.

The resolution described net neutrality as “a significant prerequisite for enabling an innovative Internet ecosystem and for securing a level playing field at the service of European citizens and entrepreneurs.”

It called on the European Commission “to ensure that Internet service providers do not block, discriminate against, impair or degrade the ability of any person to use a service to access, use, send, post, receive or offer any content, application or service of their choice, irrespective of source or target.”

The resolution recognises the need for operators to have “reasonable network management” and “ensuring competition,” but at the same time warns about “the potential for anti-competitive and discriminatory behaviour in traffic management.”

“Reasonable data traffic management is required and very useful to prevent network congestion and the smooth running of applications and services. Nonetheless, it is clearly understood that traffic management practices must not be used for anti-competitive purposes”, said Industry, Research and Energy Committee chair Herbert Reul, CDU MEP for North Rhine-Westphalia.

Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission and commissioner for the Digital Agenda, has so far resisted calls for directives, preferring to leave it to a competitive market to ensure consumers are well served.

“We do not exclude legislation but we cannot pre-empt the results of the existing investigation,” said Ryan Heath, a spokesman for Ms. Kroes. “Following investigations by BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications), the Commission will assess the need for more stringent measures to achieve competition and the choice consumers deserve.”

EU ministers will meet to adopt conclusions on the open Internet and net neutrality at the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council on December 13, 2011.

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