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The European Parliament has voted heavily against rules intended to safeguard net neutrality in the European Union.
A whole series of amendments to regulations on how Internet traffic is managed in Europe were rejected by MEPs. Backers of net neutrality rushed to criticise the move.
Now the un-amended existing legislation will be developed into regulations.
Campaigners had argued provisions for guaranteeing net neutrality in the existing rules were too vague and that it would be easy for Internet firms to strike deals with content providers which may not be advantageous for everyone. They are concerned fast lanes or “zero rating” agreements, in which customers can access certain firms for free outside their data plans, would become more widespread.
Political observers say many MEPs were reluctant to begin a process of amending the regulation given that it might have delayed another aspect of the rules – the abolishment of mobile data roaming charges.
The Body of European Regulators (BEREC) will now have nine months to issue guidelines to bodies like Ofcom in the UK.
One German MEP described the outcome as “regrettable” and added that he felt the regulations as passed do not include a clear definition of net neutrality to inform regulators. A host content providers including Netflix had expressed their support for the amendments and urged MEPs to vote them through.