Council of Europe to step up for Net Neutrality

As a follow-up to the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on network neutrality, and in the implementation of the Internet Governance Strategy 2012-2015, the Council of Europe has organised on 29-30 May 2013 a multi-stakeholder dialogue on Network Neutrality and Human Rights.

Based on a background paper, which included a Model framework on Network Neutrality, the debate started with 2 keynote interventions: one from Chris Marsden, Professor at University of Sussex that presented an overview of the history of European Network Neutrality and Human Rights and the second from Joe McNamee from EDRi that emphasized why a regulatory approach was needed today on this topic. He also explained why the Internet users did’t want Internet to be like the failed French Minitel system, which worked well, was very secure but lacked innovation.

The next two panels focused on the issues of Net Neutrality and Freedom of Expression and privacy, while the next day was shared between national experiences, with the presentations of the models in Netherlands, Slovenia and Norway, and the opinions of the private sector.

The EU Data Protection Supervisor representative Achim Klabunde reminded the participants that looking at the packets’ content (such as via Deep Packet Inspection DPI) infringes the right to privacy and “explicit consent” is needed to have its traffic being monitored by ISP.

The Skype representative Jean-Jacques Sahel explained that in order to block this VoIP service, you needed to use DPI, as the application may use different ports.

Frode Sørensen from the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications authority pointed out the major issues of the co-regulatory approach to net neutrality they had adopted since 2006. He explained that transparency is not sufficient and that, even in their case, “regulatory measures will be considered if the voluntary agreement shows insufficient.”

The private sector panel was hosting divergent opinions from the Deutsche Telekom representative who claimed that their data caps have been misunderstood and that they “do not have DPI in our fixed network” while the Skype representative was very direct in his conclusion: “There is a systemic failure in European mobile Internet access market.”

The outcome paper of the major points of discussion will be communicated to the 47 member state representatives of the CoE Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) to consider and propose further action.

Source: EDRI-gram “Council of Europe to step up for Net Neutrality“ Number 11.11

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