EU may ban ISPs from throttling, blocking sites as net neutrality talks underway

By on June 4, 2013, 4:30 PM

In a move to bolster net neutrality across Europe, EU officials are discussing plans which would prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling online sites and services. Currently, the Netherlands is one of the few areas to implement their own strict net neutrality policies; the vast majority of EU countries do not.

In speech addressed to the European parliament in Brussels, the European Commission's Digital Agenda VP Neelie Kroes argued that "some ISPs deliberately degrade" and even outright block network services like Skype and Whatsapp for anti-competitive reasons. Kroes is looking to regulators to craft policies which curb these dubious practices without stifling competition and innovation but meanwhile encouraging transparency and consumer choice.

"But equally it's clear to me that many Europeans expect protection against such commercial tactics. And that is exactly the EU safeguard we will be providing. A safeguard for every European, on every device, on every network: a guarantee of access to the full and open internet, without any blocking or throttling of competing services." 

Source: EC Digital Agenda VP Neelie Kroes

ISPs often argue a legitimate need to prioritize certain types of network traffic over others, a practice which is often referred to as traffic shaping. Analyzing data packets to judge their network importance and prioritizing them accordingly is a useful tool for halting service-crippling DDoS attacks and ensuring latency-sensitive services like Vo-IP operate smoothly. 

If all goes well and Kroes' recommendations take wing with EU lawmakers, a set of fully fleshed-out regulations still may not be in place across EU member states until 2015.

Net neutrality and what it should mean precisely has remained a contentious issue since Comcast was accused of throttling P2P network traffic in 2007. In the U.S, the FCC released a set of guidelines in 2010 in an effort to promote net neutrality, but a federal court ruled that the FCC did not have the power to enforce such rules.

User Comments: 6

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tonylukac said:

I heard that the UK just blocked proxies.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sounds good to me. Blocking sites should be a user preference. Perhaps one day sites will be categorized to allow for user preference.

Guest said:

I think throttling and such activity should be illegal for all users pay for the service so who made the isp gods to decide who is more important. All users have the right to have their communication forwarded for they payed for it. As far as p2p illegal software downloads that is not and should not be the isps place to police.

S1968G S1968G said:

Sounds to good coming from the EU - Little voice in my head is saying "keep your eye on the other hand" typical illusionist trick, dazzle people with one hand while the other does the sneaky stuff....


Lets not forget: the EU also wants to firewall Europe much like China blocking out alter-media and news channels they think you should not be watching...

Guest said:

Well, maybe we should all be told what we should be doing, watching and looking for on the internet (for the good of all Almighties and well being of the economy and it's fathers). Don't we all need a mama to guide us through the life ? And those who stray, shouldn't be punished ?

General Sam General Sam said:

I heard that the UK just blocked proxies.

Just tested, I can access just fine.

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