Neelie Kroes’s speech on net neutrality

On 19 April 2011, Neelie Kroes, EU’s commissioner for the Digital Agenda, reiterated her support for “net neutrality” at a press conference in Brussels.

This statement was released at that time notably in view of the application of the new EU telecoms rules due to come to force in all Member States on May 21.

For Kroes, net neutrality can only be guaranteed through the respect of three milestones (i) service transparency (customers should get clear and accurate information about the service, notably as regard to their speed connection and possible restrictions of their Internet services) (ii) quality of service and (iii) ability to switch operator within one working day and to keep the same phone number.

While Kroes acknowledged that traffic management can be useful, notably when it is done in the interest of the consumers (for instance prioritizing video calls over emails so that they can run smoothly, even if that means that emails can be delayed by a few second), she condemned firmly the practice of “throttling” (slowing down certain types of traffic, such as video streaming provided by a competitor) or the one of degrading or blocking the use of website or technology provided by certain companies for anti-competitive purposes.

She therefore asserted that the Commission will closely look at these market practices and publicly name operators engaging in such practices by the end of 2011. She added that these practices could even be regulated by specific legislation, should the market fail to find a system that would guarantee an open and neutral Internet for everyone. [Béatrice Martinet Farano]