Mourning Net Neutrality

My colleague Alexandra Combes writes: Is net neutrality dead ? Let's face the truth: yes, it is. At least, as we knew it. In Europe, the repetitive efforts of civil society to get basic principles adopted by European institutions have sadly led...

Share

My colleague Alexandra Combes writes:

Is net neutrality dead ? Let's face the truth: yes, it is. At least, as we knew it.

In Europe, the repetitive efforts of civil society to get basic principles adopted by European institutions have sadly led to nothing more than a vague regulation on 'laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent.' It does ban discrimination against specific content or services, but it also permits the possibility for internet providers to have 'special agreements' with certain companies to ensure 'quality traffic' for their applications. The regulation is currently under examination at the European Parliament with final adoption being forecast for next Easter if the usual delays don't slow it down. Not that the network companies are waiting. For example the major mobile operator SFR is already offering its subscribers special tariffs ensuring an unlimited YouTube access.

In the United States, things are also getting bad. While rather light legislation imposing minimal net neutrality requirements was adopted by the US Federal Communications Commission in 2010, a federal appeals court recently invalidated it due to an alleged lack of legal grounding. This was a benediction for American internet providers such as Verizon and AT&T, who previously announced the launch of a broadband sponsoring plan targeting actors such as Google and Netflix.

What should we do then? Bury our heads into the ground and cry our tears there ain't no Freedom anymore? Of course not. As usual, there are opportunities here. Yes, Internet services providers can now decide to privilege certain content. Fair enough. We should focus on what we can still do by ourselves without asking for permission.

Launching new businesses for instance. This is the meshed society; we are each empowered peers and we don't need to rely on legacy intermediaries. How about starting our own open internet services companies -- "Open ISPs" -- powered by the software and spirit of open source. It appears some have thought about it already. Several websites have already provided instructions on how to start your ISP business. Maybe the failure of our representatives to properly address the abuses of the legacy corporations who want to mess up the meshed society is a hidden blessing, which will trigger yet another wave of open innovation.

"Recommended For You"

FCC questions how to enforce net neutrality rules Time to Fight for Net Neutrality in the EU