Sunday 18 December 2011

EU Digital Agenda: Open internet and net neutrality background

I mentioned the EU TTE Council (transport, telecommunications and energy) 12 and 13 December 2011 on my blogs in Finnish, Swedish (here and here) and English. The TTE Council adopted conclusions which on five pages establish the open internet and net neutrality as a policy objective in Europe, while balancing between contradictory claims and interests.

Here I am going to take a web log approach on my blogs, recording the steps from the Digital Agenda.

Digital Agenda for Europe

Let us start upstream, returning to A Digital Agenda for Europe. The original communication was published 19 May 2010, even if the revised version is dated 26 August 2010. The proposal kicked off one of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The communication from the European Commission is available in 22 EU languages; here the English version:

A Digital Agenda for Europe; Brussels, 26.8.2010 COM(2010) 245 final/2

Open internet

The Digital Agenda communication offered this introduction to the openness of the internet (page 20-21), with a few indications about the occurring questions:

2.4.3. Open and neutral internet

The Commission will also monitor closely the implementation of the new legislative provisions on the open and neutral character of the internet, which safeguard users' rights to access and distribute information online and ensure transparency about traffic management [Footnote 27 reference to: Article 8(4)(g) of the Directive 2002/21/EC on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services; Articles 20(1)(b) and 21(3)(c) and (d) of the Universal Service Directive]. The Commission will launch a public consultation before summer 2010 as part of its more general commitment to report by the end of the year, in the light of market and technological developments, on whether additional guidance is required, in order to secure the basic objectives of freedom of expression, transparency, the need for investment in efficient and open networks, fair competition and openness to innovative business models.

Net neutrality

Wikipedia offers a long introduction to the controversial topic Network neutrality. The article is general in scope, but most of the contents deal with developments and opinion in the United States. However, it discusses the legal situation in the European Union and a few member states (with some need for editing and updating).

Ralf Grahn

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