The European Parliament has passed a major package of new telecom laws, complete with the amendments that properly define and protect net neutrality.
Thankfully, the laws were passed complete with a series of amendments coming from the Socialist, Liberal, Green and Left members of the European Parliament after the previous deal left in a lot of loopholes that would have allowed telcos to start giving special treatment to various types of services, such as video streaming tools.
The package of laws has been under negotiations for months and the European Parliament has finally adopted it, which makes a lot of people breathe easy.
Carriers wanted to be able to charge big companies higher rates for high-speed access to the Internet for services such as YouTube and, eventually, Netflix. This isn’t exactly a new strategy for companies to obtain more money for providing good service.
In fact, a similar situation has contributed to the net neutrality discussion in the United States, where Netflix was bullied into signing a deal with Comcast after users reported drops in connection quality over several months. The company’s CEO has recently pushed for more net neutrality in the United States, pointing the finger at all major ISPs who do adopt the same strategy.
This goes against the very meaning of net neutrality, which is a principle according to which all Internet traffic is treated equally, without discriminations, restriction or interference.
Thankfully, the European Parliament members closed the loopholes that would have given ISPs the right to take the same approach in Europe as their American counterparts.
“Providers of internet access, of electronic communications to the public and providers of content, applications and services shall be free to offer specialised services to end-users. Such services shall only be offered if the network capacity is sufficient to provide them in addition to internet access services and they are not to the detriment of the availability or quality of internet access services. Providers of internet access to end-users shall not discriminate between functionally equivalent services and applications,” the Amendment reads.
Another important detail that was passed along with the net neutrality rules is the nixing of all roaming fees within the European Union. This should create a single market for telecom services, with the same cost for calls, texts, and Internet data.
The whole package needs to be approved by the next European Parliament since elections are in May, and then the representatives of European countries will give the final approval.