OTI Fights for Net Neutrality in Europe

Last month, a federal court upheld the 2015 Open Internet Order, ensuring that the strongest net neutrality rules in American history would remain the law of the land. The ruling was a decisive win in the fight for net neutrality in the United States—but across the pond in Europe, the fight is far from over.

Last October, the European Parliament adopted the Telecommunications Single Market regulation to promote broadband access and make Europe a “Connected Continent.” While an important step, the regulation’s protections for net neutrality were ambiguous at best. Parliament left most of the net neutrality details to be worked out by European telecom regulators.

Since then, regulators have been working on guidelines that will determine whether Europe gets strong net neutrality or weak, loophole-ridden rules. While Europe’s biggest telecom companies are lobbying for the loophole-ridden approach, OTI entered the fray last week when it asked for strong rules that are, at a minimum, as robust as the American regime.

In our comments, we urged the EU to draw on the lessons of the American experience and remain vigilant in creating strong guidelines. Our research of the U.S. broadband market demonstrated that broadband providers like Comcast and AT&T can act as gatekeepers of the Internet with the ability to stifle competition, pick winners and losers, and control the user experience. These behaviors violate the foundational principles of openness and nondiscrimination that have guided the Internet since its inception. The U.S. government responded to threat of gatekeeper control with strong net neutrality rules, and the millions of European citizens and small businesses that rely on the Open Internet deserve the same.

The EU will publish its final guidelines by August 30th.

OTI’s comments can be read in full here.

ATTACHMENT:

BEREC Comments

Author:

Joshua Stager is policy counsel and government affairs lead at the Open Technology Institute, specializing in telecommunications law and policy.