October 30, 2015
People argue. Some argue to prove that they are right. Others argue to make things right. For the time being, the argument about net neutrality is over. The Regulation does not go neutral all the way, but it would be wrong to claim that this was a defeat for net neutrality just for the sake of proving how right the advocates of harder net neutrality provisions were.
In the days after, the Internet is full of panicky messages how terrible the Internet is going to become. How after the passing of the Regulation company such-and-such will now act so-and-so and this would be just terrible for everyone.
The first thing to be said is that if the Regulation was rejected, company such-and-such could be doing so-and-so anyway. As they were able to do so before Tuesday. With the exception of The Netherlands and Slovenia, protection of net neutrality in Europe is now stronger, not weaker.
From here onward there are two options.
1) Activists can use the argument of company such-and-such as a proof that they were right. That Internet will be turning into living hell, congested, full of paywalls and commercial service. That, as the doomsayers and fearmongers were saying all along, the Internet as we know it, is dead. This is exactly the interpretation that the part of the industry that was against net neutrality wants to prevail. Do you really want to help them?
2) On the other hand we can argue that company such-and-such should not start behaving so-and-so. Absolutely not. That the Regulation is not as toothless and that it explicitly prohibits it. That it is, even without the amendments, perfextly clear.
That, for example, “optimized service” (Article 3, paragraph 5) does pop into existence because a telco will give priority to some service’s traffic, but that it is vice versa. And that the “optimized service” should not be available through internet access in the first place. Like digital TV you may have at home.
Now it the time to fight for the interpretation of the clauses as adopted. Before Tuesday it made some sense to panic about how weak they are. After Tuesday we need to read them in the way that advances net neutrality.
Indeed even in the most “neutral” reading the clauses will not satisfy the purists, but I remain convinced that the Frank Sinatra quote still applies to the Internet. “The best is yet to come”.Žiga Turk