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[dupe] Your freedom online is threatened by an EU proposal. (savetheinternet.eu)
225 points by themichael on March 18, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 40 comments

Net neutrality has become law in the Netherlands after a public outcry about the traffic discrimination plans of the major mobile providers.

The issue is no longer only known to an obscure minority, and this in a country where the mood is very strongly against relinquishing any more autonomy to the EU.

In other words: if the EU attempts to nullify Dutch net neutrality (this proposal would override Dutch law), there will likely be a considerable backlash.

The EU explicitly revoking our online freedom could be the final nail in the coffin for Dutch support for the EU.

Bullshit. The Netherlands is never ever stepping out of the EU (of which it was a founder btw), it would be economic suicide.

For everyone outside The Netherlands: Net neutrality was instated after the largest telecom provider wanted to count Whatsapp messages as SMS messages. This lead to public outcry.

I'm disappointed that this site for such an important issue doesn't even seem to work very well when trying to contact your MEP. It doesn't even recognize my country, and then it picks MEPs at random from multiple countries. If they didn't have something very reliable, they could've just showed you a list of countries to select your own, and then pick the MEPs which you want to e-mail (or all at once).

Also, these EU organizations don't seem nearly as organized as the US ones (although the US ones aren't that great at this either). I found out about this the same day the EU Parliament had to vote on this like a month ago. Fortunately, they canceled the vote back then. Then I heard absolutely nothing about it until yesterday, again a day before the vote.

These organizations need to do a better job at keeping the public updated on these Internet issues. We need an EFF of Europe.

It's not just that, the colour scheme used on the site is so jarring that it makes reading the content an unpleasant experience (and that's assuming you even take it seriously as it looks almost like a prank site).

In the end, I gave up and read the comments on HN to try and work out what the issue was. And I'm someone who's very keen to keep updated on issues like these, so I can't imagine how many casual visitors they'll lose because of this.

This site lets you choose and call your MEP by country: http://piphone.lqdn.fr/campaign/call2/NetNeutrality-final-ap...

Yeah, I also got random MEPs. Resorted to clicking "choose another" until I found someone from my home country. A simple list with email address and country of origin would have been more usable.

Is it about net neutrality ("all packets were created equal") or is it about censorship (by which I mean government actions like court orders to block sites and filters)? Or is it somehow about both?

Why is it the DEATH OF THE INTERNET AS WE KNOW IT when it's a new regulation that doesn't go as far as they want in the net neutrality direction? And all they want are some adjustments?

The idea of banning specialised services functionally identical to those on the Internet means banning all specialised services because you can provide arbitrary services over the Internet. Including TV and telephone which is what cable providers here usually sell in addition to Internet access.

Honestly, I don't really understand the issue at hand. Is there a concise, less agitating explanation somewhere?

I think you're taking this too lightly, to be honest.

That's exactly the point of the Internet: it offers arbitrary services. Banning stuff because it could compete with other services you offer is opening the door to the internet being crippled on all ISPs.

That's seriously terrifying.

That's my complaint about this site: who's banning what? I just checked, VoIP works on the same coax that my ISP uses to provide telephone services.

It's increasingly the case that internet, tv and telephone services are provided by a single company over a single set of infrastructure. Because those service providers have a vested interest to protect the commercial viability of their own offerings (specifically, the TV and telephone packages), there is an incentive to limit the internet service's viability as a replacement for TV and telephone services. Such limitations allow ISPs to engage in text-book antic-competitive behaviour by directly hindering their competitors, and, arguably, the "specialised services" language would allow them to do just that by treating competitors as a specialised service, and differentiating the service conditions (e.g. by throttling the bandwidth offered).

Additionally, using the specialised service language, services like, say, Youtube, Facebook, Netflix or iTunes can pay ISPs to be treated as a a specialised service, offering a better-than-standard experience (lifted traffic limits, increased bandwidth). Such a treatment is sure to be pretty damn expensive, and raises a very tall hurdle that new entrants in those markets must jump if they want to compete with the incumbents on even ground. This is, once again, highly anti-competitive.

There's also an incentive - competition - to provide services that people actually want over their own offerings. For example, here in Portugal, mobile provider(s?) are offering unlimited mobile data for services that compete with SMS, like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Skype, etc.

Personally, I'm not ideologically opposed to net neutrality legislation, but I'd rather identify why is competition not preventing ISPs from violating it, and what can be done to strengthen it. I'm getting somewhat tired of laws that are just trying to fix the problems created by other laws, like those which grant privileges to certain economic groups (not that I'm saying this is the case).

Yes, but if you make long distance calls using VoIP, and aren't paying premium rate, then they want to block those calls. Forcing you to make traditional calls which are of course lot more expensive. That is exactly what this is about.

As a starting point, if and as these services are becoming as necessary as other "utilities", and inasmuch as providers are screaming about and claiming issues of "expense" and revenue and whatall...

Let's, as we do for other utilities (at least, in my country), make them lay it out on the table.

Open your books. What are the real revenues and expenses.

We've all (again, in my country) watched our bills rise and rise, while some of us at least read about consistent, continuing drops in the price of backhaul/trunk capacity, as just one example of what we perceive as a fairly apparent dichotomy.

The practice to this point, has been that the consumer pays for access to those trunks, and hosts pay for their access, and the companies involved live off of that. Now, they want to collect collect twice? They want to pick and choose and charge "premiums" to "prioritize"?

Where is the basis for any of this, in actual, cold, hard numbers? Until this is presented, I'm not even willing to have the conversation.

AND... for one, I don't believe it actually exists -- or need exist. It is varying shades of what I will qualify on the farther end as extortion. It is not of necessity, it is of convenience and greed on the part of those who increasingly seek to hold the reins ever more firmly and exclusively, now that "the Internet" is big business and not merely "some geeky corner".

Finally, as varying flavors of "expert" in this field and topic, we carry I think some societal obligation as well as personal and professional interest, in seeing that this doesn't happen.

Many of our own lives and careers have been substantially enriched and enhanced by the relatively open digital ecosphere we have experienced.

When the same old... "bullies", frankly, show up to try to dominate it for their own interest and gain. It's up to us to keep it out of their hands, and to ensure that the next generation of technology is yet more resistant to that "same old same old".

This is not about shirking responsibility -- and there are responsibilities involved, serious ones including legitimate needs and approaches to e.g. security.

It is about properly identifying it, amidst a clamour of often disingenuous self-interest. And identifying proper, effective, and practical approaches. About empowering, once again, the participants and community themselves. As I see it.

Profit dictates what you can and can not do. And profit it nr.1 priority.

And therefore you should vote also with your money.

Avoid companies that threaten net neutrality.

Kinda hard when you have 1 ISP in town.

Where in the EU does that happen?

The vote by the Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Research and Energy already took place today: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7421545.

The committee voted against strict network neutrality, and for the possibility of differentiated "specialized services". The bill now goes to the European Parliament for vote.

I'm an advisor to the vicepresident of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, she is in charge of the Digital Agenda and it seems that she helped to put this forward.

Although I'm in her group of Young Advisors (we're 25), I didn't know about this until today.

I just sent an email to the other advisors and to some people of the European Commission to see what's up. They're always talking about how to improve net neutrality so I can't understand what's going on here.

Anyway I'm really angry about this shitty law killing net neutrality. This is kind of shocking.

If this law passes, I'll seriously ask myself if I want to continue in my role as an advisor.

This came up on reddit's /r/portugal and I had a look through their points to figure out what was going on. The legislation is here:


Their 5 points:

1) We don't want a two-tiered Internet, all data should be treated equally. Article 19 of the European Commission’s Telecoms Single Market proposal must be deleted.

It's a tough article to read but as far as I can tell it says the opposite. That any ISP can operate in any part of the EU.

2) Private companies cannot be judge, jury and police over online content. Article 23.5.a. of the European Commission’s Telecoms Single Market proposal must to be deleted.

23.5.a. just says that one of the few exceptions that allow filtering is "implement a legislative provision or a court order, or prevent or impede serious crimes". That last "or" may be poorly interpreted I suppose and I don't know who gets to say what's a "serious crime". Other than that it seems reasonable.

3) Europe won the Nobel peace prize – The European Commission’s credibility on human rights issues shouldn't be jeopardized by engaging in the same type of internet censorship that Europeans critique elsewhere in the world.

This isn't a demand of any sort, just a political point.

4) The current definition of "specialized service" (Article 2.15) increases costs and risk to internet users, and must be changed or deleted.

I can't really see the problem with this. Once you've set rules that you can't filter/degrade service, letting your users hire specialized services on top doesn't seem out of order. I suppose the risk is that if there isn't enough competition "proper access to Netflix" may become a "specialized" service.

5) Article 23, “Freedom to provide and avail of open internet access,” must replace "shall be free" with "have the right" to protect internet users from online discrimination.

This on I don't get. Maybe in legal-speak this makes a difference. I only went through the rest of this very lightly but it seemed to go in the right direction.

The main problem here is ISPs as a bottleneck. Longer term we need to figure out how to bypass the bottlenecks, which seem to be increasingly acting as points of political control and surveillance. Such a project would need to have a legal and technical side to it. On the legal side there would need to be an area of radio bandwidth reserved for public internet. On the technical side you need mesh networking software and hardware. There is likely to be an evolutionary path between the internet we have now and something which is less dependent upon ISPs.

To bypass ISPs we need to democratize the ISPs and decentralize them some more. Perhaps in the future, I could get Internet in France from a German ISP that has solar-powered drones or balloons over France, or a satellite.

The longer term goal should be to create meshnets, so we can give Internet to each other.

Direct censorship of stuff might not even be the biggest threat, though, but traffic shaping. We could avoid direct censorship if we build more P2P systems, which can't be "taken down". However, they probably could be throttled to a crawl, if the ISP is allowed to shape traffic and discriminate against the type of traffic they choose. Bitcoin for example can't be censored, but it can be made unusable.

The bottleneck is due to the 95th percentile way of billing and the fact big content provider don't buy the bandwidth equally for everyone. Normally you peer (free exchange), if and only if you have almost as much in as out. If you have clearly more input coming to your AS than output, you are supposed to buy your internet transit, else your behaviour is parasitic.

Yes google buys internet transit, but not in Europa, they expect the users to pay for their free services when they are not north american, and they provide the "free VoIP" services this way.

Google, amazon are the problems, they don't assume the cost of their services and make it stand inequally amongst the users. Google is killing the cost model of ISP.

In this condition, how do you expect a sustainable free internet if you destroy the business model of ISP ?

gosh, I made some mistakes on peering. but it does not change the big picture. Sorry.

Peering is just opened to anyone, and people prefer peering to buying. So people prefer to have the less possible amount of traffic leaving their AS.


They peer quite a lot even in Europa, it is a good move when you want to become an ISP.

Still they consider it is the ISP to support most of the cost of the dimensioning of the pipes. Without returned value.

Pfiou, good idea to double check.

Some people try to address this issue in Europe and especially in France. I strongly recommend anyone interested to take a look at the DIY ISP project [1]. There is also a map [2] showing existing initiatives and a previous thread on HN [3].

[1] https://www.diyisp.org/dokuwiki/doku.php

[2] http://db.ffdn.org/

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7006527

Our freedom online is threatened by every government, even those not our own.

This sounds terrible. On the other hand I'd like to know what's the status quo right now in Europe. For example, are ISPs required to not block or restrict access to online services?

I know the Danish courts has ordered Danish ISPs to block The Pirate Bay, so I doubt the status quo is that ISPs are required not to block online services.

Yes, but according to this, ISPs may decide themselves to block stuff, without any court orders. This is something MPAA has been pushing for a long time with ACTA, TPP, and apparently with this, too.

They want to bypass the judicial system, so they can censor stuff en masse, like they do with Google/Youtube and their automated takedowns, but since it's at the ISP level, probably at a much larger scale and in a more comprehensive way.

If this passes by and enters to action, you'll notice the difference (HN not loading, or loading extremely fast while your FB connection will go as fast as ever).

If you don't have a facebook account, the you don't have internets ;-).

Here in the Netherlands we already have net neutrality, which Europe might be taking away now.

Does this proposal (and Article 19 specifically in it) create a worse status quo that we have today in Europe?

Serious question: Why do we have to fight this every year? Why haven't they (the lawmakers) learn?

Because businesses won't give up a chance to get more profits in. Since lobbying is legal, politicians won't give up either.

How was the SOPA strike organized? We need another one, pronto.

Well, I have sent email to a member from my country. Although it might be too late for this vote. Hope it affects his view anyway or at least rises a question or two.

On the one hand I think firms would just have to compete on offering as many services as possible. On the other hand I suppose if the offer is "10$ a month for free streaming of all Hollywood movies and free porn, and 10$ extra to get access to some opinions on the internet you might not agree with anyway", many people might opt for saving the 10$.

To someone who knows more than me, how can a US citizen who just moved to the EU help fight this?

Why is not possible to have alternative internetworks?

It is. It is just hard. The SIPRNET is the only big one I am aware of. Plus you can't tweet,email mom, Facebook stalk, or check HN from an alternative network until someone adds that functionality for you.

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