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Who wants Net Discrimination in Europe? Net Neutrality in immediate danger

La Quadrature du Net - For immediate release

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Who wants Net Discrimination in Europe?

** Paris, Feb.16th. Amendments in the European Parliament to the
"Telecoms Package"[1] may allow operators to take control of their
customer's usage of the Net. According to amendments pushed by AT&T,
"network management practices" could be used to discriminate what
content, services and applications users could access and use. Such "net
discrimination" causes great risks to the very structure of Internet,
and its innovation and growth models. It is also a massive threat to
user's rights and freedoms. Who would want this for Europe? **

On Feb 19th will officially begin the second reading of the "Telecoms
Package" in the European Parliament. In reality, at the very same
moment, a political agreement may be reached after ongoing opaque
negotiations between the rapporteurs, the Commission and the Council.
Insights from the Parliament reveal that extremely disturbing
provisions[2] defended by telecom operators, and mainly the US giant
AT&T[3], might get through. Using the intentionally vague wording of
"network management policies", operators may be authorised to get total
control of the network and their users' activities.

"At this stage of the procedure, what the rapporteur is ready to accept
is likely to be voted in plenary. The responsability of promoting, or
conversely opposing to, extra-european interests going against internal
market and consumer protection, is lying on his shoulders." explains
Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, analyst for La Quadrature du Net.

Such a scheme of "net discrimination" would allow operators to
prioritise or deprioritise, allow or forbid, access to content and
services, as well as usage of applications. On the pretext of addressing
network congestions and using the fear of a "collapse of the
Internet"[4], and in the name of "diversifying their offerings"[5]
operators want to get the ability to filter their networks content and
usage in order to sell more services.

Imagine a few scenarios that could become real in the near future, if
"net discrimination" is allowed in the "Telecoms Package":

* You are connected to a cheap Internet access. A friend sends you a
link to a page on Wikipedia. You click it to see a message from your
operator : "sorry, this website is not accessible in your offer. please
upgrade.". You would not be connected to the same "Internet" as your
friend anymore.

* You are connected through an operator who just merged with
Vivendi-Universal. When you try to watch a video from Sony or Warner
bros, it is incredibly slow. Only videos from Universal are fluent.
Operators could distort competition to favour their own services.

* A new entrant actor innovates by creating a new protocol or
application or service. Users may not be able to use it until their
operator agrees. Innovation would be in the hands of operators.

* You are accused by the music industry of having downloaded music
without authorization. Usage of any peer-to-peer software is
automatically restricted, or become incredibly slow. ISPs would, under
the pressure of the entertainment industries, substitute to the judicial

This is not a fantasy, as a recent amendement[6] in the US Senate to the
"Stimulus Package" proposed to use "network management practices" in
order to "prevent copyright infringement". "Net discrimination" may be
exactly what the entertainment industries are waiting for in their
idiotic and archaic war against their clients[7].

"Allowing operators to choose what their users can do with their access
would be a major disruption in Internet's model of growth and its
innovation. Such 'net discrimination' would lead to access to
operator-controlled networks that would not deserve to be called
'Internet' anymore, like on the mobile phones where VoIP, filesharing
and streaming are filtered. Members of the European Parliament, and
especially the rapporteurs, must frame 'network management policies' to
what is strictly necessary to guarantee the security of the networks and
of their users." concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder of La
Quadrature du Net.

More informations, along with a descriptive dossier, will be
published soon.

** About la Quadrature du Net **

La Quadrature du Net (Squaring the Net) is citizen group informing about
legislative projects menacing civil liberties as well as economic and
social development in the digital age.

La Quadrature du Net informs citizens, public authorities,
organizations, corporations.

It works with everyone to elaborate balanced alternative solutions.

La Quadrature du Net is supported by French, european and international
NGOs including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Society
Institute and Privacy International.

List of supporting organisations :

** Press contact and press room **

Jérémie Zimmermann, jz@laquadrature.net, +33 (0)615 940 675


* References *

1. Revision of five directives regulating electronic communication
networks in Europe. More infos :

2. The proposed amendments:

3. The arguments from AT&T:

4. Such scenario has been heard for years, but has always been avoided
by predicting congestions and investing in more bandwidth, resulting in
the investment model that allowed the growth of Internet as we know it.
See on this topic : "Threats to the Internet: Too Much or Too Little
Growth?" by Andrew Odlyzko:

5. Recital 14b to Universal Service directive, as proposed by AT&T,
claims "the right of network and service operators to diversify their
offerings in a competitive market, including through the imposition of
reasonable usage restrictions". In a competitive market, new services
shall have extra added value, and not be more restrictive!

6. Text and analysis of the amendment by Sen. Feinstein:

7. More examples of that absurd war can be found in the Medina Report:
the french "graduated response" law, HADOPI:
http://www.laquadrature.net/fr/HADOPI, or other softer forms of the
so-called "three strikes and you're out" policy in Ireland or in UK.

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