As the European Union considers enacting a policy on net neutrality, it is faced with the fact that individual member countries have different policies now in place.
The policies need to be looked at by the European officials as they come up with a regional policy, according to the Openforum Academy (OFA).
The OFA, a think tank, wants the EU to come up with net neutrality regulations so there is a level playing field for service providers and consumers. The focus in the EU has been on traffic management, the OFA explained in a new report.
“The goal is to preserve an open internet and to ensure that it can continue to provide high quality services to all and to foster innovation,” the report adds. “All traffic going through a network should be treated equally, independent of content, application, service, device, source or target.”
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Another supporter of net neutrality in Europe is Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission. She wants to see independent service providers not being able to block or throttle services from competitors or new services, according to an EC statement. Other advocates disagree with her stand.
As of now, 23 of the 28 nations which make up the EU already have individual policies on net neutrality. Most of these nations have some kind of “official position,” the OFA said.
These vary. For instance, in the United Kingdom there is a voluntary code. Guidelines exist in Austria, Denmark and France. On the other hand, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Slovakia do not have rules or guidelines in place. Belgium and Luxembourg may soon enact laws on net neutrality. Ireland and Italy want the European Commission to take the lead on the issue with a “harmonized approach within the European Union,” the OFA said.
In addition seven of the nations in the EU may soon enact new policies on the issue.
“The debate has been very active in some countries and practically non-existent in others,” the OFA report said.
"Debates at the national level should be considered by the EU if only for compatibility and inspiration purposes," Maël Brunet, an official with Openforum Europe, told IDG News Service. "There certainly are interesting elements to consider there."
Among the critics of the current EU proposal is one commentator who said on an EC website in a statement addressed to Kroes, “You have failed in ensuring the net neutrality for all citizens in the European Union. In the draft for regulating the European telecommunication market the EU commission clearly states, that communication and content providers are free to set up treatments between each other for better ‘quality of service.’ So you seriously think that is a good idea? We are moving straight forward to a two-tier society, in which smaller content providers will not be able to afford a prioritized transfer of data to their user base. This is absolutely not acceptable.”
Edited by Alisen Downey