Today, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has released guidelines for national regulators on net neutrality in the EU. We’re broadly pleased with the guidelines, although some grey areas remain, which will need to be tightly monitored by national regulators as they enforce the new rules.
Anne Jellema, CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation said:
“At first glance, these guidelines seem to deliver what half a million citizens in Europe demanded throughout the consultation process – an open Internet that can deliver opportunity for all. This victory is particularly significant as it has been achieved in the face of intense lobbying from powerful telecommunications companies who wanted to see first the law, and then the guidelines watered down.
“As the baton for safeguarding net neutrality now passes to national regulators, we urge them to monitor closely the remaining grey areas and potential loopholes. These include close assessments of zero-rating programmes to ensure important rights are not being violated. Regulators must also enforce both the letter and the spirit of the guidelines, which call for the internet to be preserved ‘as an open platform for innovation with low access barriers for end-users, providers of content, applications and services and providers of internet access service.
“Throughout this three-year process, citizens across Europe have understood the power they hold to protect the Web, and have shown they are prepared to fight for it. As we celebrate today’s progress, we will also remain vigilant against emerging threats to the Web, and will continue to shape a Web that empowers everyone, everywhere, to take part in building a fairer world.”
Background: The Web Foundation has been advocating for strong net neutrality provisions in the EU for many years. In 2013, our founding Director Sir Tim Berners-Lee met with EU Commissioner Ansip, and followed this up with a guest blog on his official EU portal in 2014. We’ve closely followed the development of the regulation and the guidelines, commenting at appropriate junctures, including most recently in an open letter to BEREC. While we hope that our work has played a part in today’s outcome, the real credit must go to the Save The Internet coalition, who have campaigned tirelessly on this issue, and of course to the hundreds of thousands of Europeans who took the time to make their voices heard.