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Net Neutrality Advocates Plan European Protest

20 Jun, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Pro-net neutrality groups plan to “slow down” the Internet across Europe June 28 as part of a grassroots public awareness program to maintain open access to the Web.

“The EU Slowdown” will be coordinated by “Fight for the Future,” the organization that in 2014 created “Battle for the Net,” and “Internet Slowdown” campaigns in the United States leading up to the Federal Communication Commission’s landmark open Internet ruling.

Specifically, participating websites will display a spinning “loading” icon of the EU flag to give consumers an idea what the Internet would look like if special interest groups and governments were allowed to control streaming access. Consumers will be given links to forward comments to Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC), the EU regulatory body currently deciding on the issue.

More than 40,000 websites in the U.S. participated in 2014, with a record 2 million-plus people submitting comments to FCC in a single day. Those comments were cited as influential in the FCC’s decision to support strong net neutrality rules, according to “Fight for the Future.”

“Europe is the world’s largest economy,” Tiffiniy Cheng, co-director at “Fight for the Future,” said in a statement. “If we let Europe’s cable and telecom companies undermine the Internet with loopholes in the net neutrality regulations, it would be a huge hit for innovation and freedom of expression globally.”

The political action group and other open Internet advocates, startups, investors and academics contend BEREC’s proposed rules are not strong enough to actually protect net neutrality, and they are urging them to fix several loopholes before they issue the final ruling.

Specifically, they are wary of rules that allow Internet service providers to prioritize their own content, or their partners’ content, through “zero rating” certain content against subscribers’ monthly data caps. They’re also concerned about ISPs’ ability under the rules to throttle entire classes of Internet traffic — file sharing, video chat or VPNs — under loopholes in the provisions.

“For too long, Europeans have been stuck with inferior Internet access because ISPs have been allowed to create fast lanes and slow lanes,” said Holmes Wilson, co-director at “Fight for the Future.”

BEREC is holding a public comment period until July 18 on their proposed rules for net neutrality.

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