European Parliament rejects net neutrality amendments

Hand grabbing image of data

The European Parliament has voted for net neutrality in spite of calls for amendments to some of the wording present in the rules that some have argued could threaten its effectiveness.

The legislation as it exists has been called "too vague", reports BBC News, and could leave companies with the ability to set up unfair deals with internet service providers (ISPs), critics claim, which could then have a knock-on effect for start-ups and smaller companies without the ability to pay for preferential treatment.

This change could see smaller firms struggle to compete with large established companies, in areas such as video streaming or gaming, and would significantly impact innovation as a result. Concerns from various organisations (including Allied for Startups, Kickstarter, Netflix and Reddit) were raised in an open letter released this week.

The Body of European Regulators (BEREC) now has nine months to submit their guidelines to government bodies in the UK.

Joe McNamee, executive director of pressure group European Digital Rights, said: "The European Parliament has avoided making decisions on all crucial points. Now, national regulators will have to decide on abuses imposed through zero rating', on rules on congestion management, on specialised services and so on.

"We will engage with BEREC and the Commission to provide clarity in the interpretation of the rules. Hopefully the vagueness of the regulation can be fixed by BEREC's guidelines and through diligent enforcement by national telecoms regulators."

Abuses through the legislation's perceived ambiguity could also manifest in things such as zero rating' agreements, which would allow customers to access websites for free outside of their individual data plans.

There was concern than net neutrality would prevent governments from blocking access to certain websites, potentially delaying PM David Cameron's plans to ban ISPs from allowing users to access porn sites by default.

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

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