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You are here: Home Blogs Community Tell EU regulators: Net neutrality isn't just for the US and India!

Tell EU regulators: Net neutrality isn't just for the US and India!

by Zak Rogoff Contributions Published on Jun 24, 2016 04:00 PM
Net neutrality exists when Internet service providers (ISPs) must allow equal access to everything on the Web, rather than favoring some sites over others. It's a bedrock condition for Internet freedom, but ISPs generally oppose it because it prevents them from charging companies extra for privileged access to the network -- making a video from one Web site load faster than video on other sites, for example.

Free software activists and allies are fighting for net neutrality rules country by country, and we've had important victories in the US and India during the last year and a half.

Now Europeans are fighting for the same rights. The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) has followed the US and India by releasing draft net neutrality protections that would cover all countries in the EU. But they've left huge holes allowing some instances of neutrality-violating known as zero-rating (allowing access to certain sites or applications without affecting a customer's allotted data usage) and traffic throttling (intentionally slowing Internet service). Thankfully, we have a chance to fix this: BEREC has asked the public, along with industry leaders and entrepreneurs, to give feedback on its draft rules.

BEREC accepts comments from everyone, not just Europeans. Even if you don't live in the EU, it's important for the global free software community to take action in solidarity with Europeans; winning net neutrality there will set an important precedent.

Wherever you live, submit a comment now, demanding strong Net Neutrality protections for Europe. You can use the submission form created by our allies at savenetneutrality.eu. The form does not depend on proprietary JavaScript to work, but if you'd prefer to use email, you can send your comment to NN-Consultation@berec.europa.eu instead.

Do you administer a Web site or keep a blog? If so, we encourage you to join savenetneutrality.eu's symbolic "slowdown" by adding a loading icon that simulates an Internet slow lane in a future without net neutrality.*

Net neutrality is important to maintain free speech and a healthy economy on the Internet. But it's also crucial for free software's continued growth and success. Here's why:

Media distribution giants that use Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and proprietary software to control what's on your computer have also been fighting to control the network. Without net neutrality, DRM-laden materials could be easier to access, while DRM-free competitors could be stuck in the slow lane. Web-based free software projects like GNU MediaGoblin could also suffer the slow treatment while competitors like YouTube shell out big bucks for speedier service. The bottom line -- an Internet where the most powerful interests can pay for speed advantages could push free software projects off the map and make it harder for decentralized projects to flourish. That's not good for free software, and it's not good for other innovative voices for change in the digital world.

Tell BEREC now: Europe needs real net neutrality.

* We recommend the animated gif version at the bottom of the page. As of the time of writing, the JavaScript version is freely licensed, but it does not work with LibreJS, so it is less friendly to those committed to preserving their freedom and security online. Don't know what we're talking about? Learn more about our Free JavaScript campaign and the LibreJS browser extension.

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