About us:

After huge victories in India and the US, now it's Europe's turn to fight for net neutrality! We are a group of digital rights experts leading the fight. We can explain how net neutrality works in Europe, why this fight matters, and how you can help.

Our current law is full of loopholes. This summer, it's up to the European telecoms regulators, BEREC, to interpret that law. Their decision could make or break net neutrality.

We need a huge response from netizens supporting net neutrality, or else we’ll be drowned out by lobbyists. Your support is invaluable, and only takes a minute or two:

message our regulators at www.savetheinternet.eu.

We are:

  • Thomas Lohninger, AKVorrat
  • Joe McNamee, European Digital Rights
  • Estelle Massé, AccesNow
  • Rejo Zenger, Bits of Freedom
  • Agnès de Cornulier, La Quadrature du Net

We will start answering questions at 14:00 PM CEST / 8:00 AM EST, and we'll stick around for at least two hours.

UPDATE: Wow, the response has been great. We'll stick around a while longer. So keep the questions coming! ;)

UPDATE#2: Our US partners from Fight For the Future are joining soon. They can help explain this to American redditors as the west coast wakes up.

We also point to our Day of Action the Internet Slowdown day on 28. June. Check it out at http://www.savenetneutrality.eu !

UPDATE#3: We are signing off for today. But it was real fun with you guys, let's do this again. Please participate in the consultation on https://savetheinternet.eu, it only takes 1 minute. Our friends from Fight For the Future will be around for a while longer, but its getting late in Europe.

For a good overview of the current EU debate, check out this Article from Vice.

Our proof: here, here, here and here.

Comments: 421 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

MurasakiZo178 karma

What's your ultimate end goal?

I haven't kept quite up to date with the US' net neutrality campaign as it doesn't concern me being situated in the UK.

SaveTheInternetEU244 karma

We want to protect the Internet as an open platform in Europe and guarantee equal access for everyone to this global neutral infrastructure. In Europe this means getting regulators (BEREC) to understand the importance of Net Neutrality.

MurasakiZo122 karma

What does it mean to the every day user to have net neutrality?

What is threatening it?

Why would you average person benefit from it?

What about the human right to have Internet access? I know places like Finland and France this is already a thing.

SaveTheInternetEU286 karma

Great questions!

For users, net neutrality means that you get to decide how to use your connection. It means that ISPs like Comcast or Deutsche Telekom can't start calling the shots and bully you into using certain websites or apps instead of others.

ISPs are against net neutrality because they can profit from this interference. They want to start selling privileged internet fast lanes to big websites. But apart from the ISPs and their chosen partners, everybody else loses. Startups will have much more trouble in beating their big competitors. And non-profits and public services will probably be hit even harder! Net neutrality keeps the internet a level playing field, rather than selling connections to the highest bidder.

Think of it like electricity companies. Could you imagine if they start selling special kilowatts which only work with certain devices? Profitable for the electricity company, but awful for everyone else. That's a road you definitely don't want to go down.

0x102777 karma

So would this stop site specific throttling? Like if i want to watch netflix and they throttle the speed to make me watch sky go or something along the lines of that for example.

SaveTheInternetEU141 karma

That is a good example. When ISPs are allowed to choose favourites, the Internet is no longer an equal platform for everyone and the big corporations will have an advantage over startups, non-commercial projects or low-cost speakers.

It doesn't really matter if the discrimination is technical (throttling) or economic (zero-rating, price discrimination), the logic is always the same. Both create an incentive for an ISP to create artificial scarcity (low bandwidth, low data volumes) and then monetise that scarcity by selling the prioritisation to those that can pay. It is called double sided market.

8rianGriffin14 karma

as i heard, deutsche Telekom is already trying to slow down netflix on heavy users. buuuut i can't link any articles right now, maybe i remember it wrong. Maybe someone has infos about it?

SaveTheInternetEU40 karma

We don't have detailed information about that and that is part of the problem. The regulation also requires ISPs to be transparent about their traffic management. Users need to know what an ISP does to their traffic.

But because ISP often misbehave and don't fulfil their transparency requirements we have created https://respectmynet.eu to collect net neutrality violations and accumulate a data set about the bad practices of ISPs.

MurasakiZo13 karma

I see - thanks for the clearing those points up.

Since the block of a lot of file sharing sites, I started using browser extensions such as ZenMate. Wouldn't it be safer, easier and less of a battle if you guys built and managed your own sort of VPN service or VPN browser extension? This could (ideally) be free or cheaper than the other popular VPNs.

I imagine if this was done correctly the big guys supporting net neutrality would come aboard and maybe even help fund such a project. Apple are very proud to say they fully support privacy.

I don't want to sound insulting but currently I imagine a bunch of people with signs outside a building chanting things which doesn't actually get things done.

SaveTheInternetEU20 karma

You caught us there! We are the guys with the protest signs in front of the telecom headquarter ;p http://www.apa-fotoservice.at/galerie/7863

But seriously, technical solutions for the knowledgable few, like VPNs always exclude the many that also needs protection. Everyone has the right for a free and open Internet. Therefore https://savetheinternet.eu opens the consultation to as many people as possible.

Nuggetsbecrispy-6 karma

So my local supermarket should be guaranteed the same amount of advertisement space as Food Lion or Walmart? It's only fair that they have the same advantages, right? No, it really isn't. Comcast and other ISP's shouldn't pick favorites, but the "level playing field" ideology is the exact opposite of a free market.

SaveTheInternetEU3 karma

Net neutrality is the foundation of competition in the Internet. Every big Internet company these days started as a small startup which was only able to challenge the incumbents because there is a level playing field. Users decide with their feet about the success or failure of every venture and idea on the Internet.

These low costs of market entry are the pillow upon which the whole diversity and innovative capacity of the Internet rests.

The telecom industry by contrast is barely competitive at all. Look at the massive abuses and negligence of Comcast or Deutsche Telekom. Letting them pick winners and losers for the market for services would be devastating.

Imagine if every Internet company would have to deal with these guys as gatekeepers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0sAVtOt2wA

Gropah51 karma

The dutch government has a different opinion than BEREC on how to interpret the european laws that have been signed. For instance according to BEREC, zero-rating would be allowed while the dutch government thinks it's not. I personally am for an internet where every data package is the same (thus also oppose zero-rating). This is one specific issue but I'd like to know if there are more "big" issues which, at the moment, would be open to interpretation?

SaveTheInternetEU48 karma

Zero-rating is definitely our biggest concern in the current draft guidelines.

The dutch government shows that the underlying telecom single market law from the EU can be read in exactly the way that we want. Namely, to prohibit harmful commercial practices (zero-rating) with a clear bright-line rule, instead of a muddy case-by-case assessment. Now we have to convince BEREC to be brave and follow the dutch example. (:

btw: it is not just Holland, India and Canada are also great examples when it comes to zero-rating. Hopefully we can get as many responses to the consultation as India did!

help us: https://savetheinternet.eu

Other issues are specialised services (paid fast-lanes on the Internet) and traffic management (maybe the death of the best effort Internet).

k-o-x24 karma

I won't ask you what you think about free basics...

However there are lots of people that think it is a good thing to give "at least that" to developing countries and poor populations. There are also other similar initiatives (from google for example, even if they haven't stated on the actual services they would make available, to my knowledge).

What could we/you do to enhance citizen and representative awareness to the bad sides of those, and to fight against them ? I'm a huge net neutrality advocate and most people I try to convince about this don't care...

SaveTheInternetEU42 karma

There is a real problem at the core of this debate and this is how to connect more people to the Internet, because it doesn't matter which education or income you have. Internet is great for empowering all social classes.

But there are good and bad reactions to that problem. The Indian reaction to Facebooks Free Basics was very clear. The people resent the idea of an american company defining which services they can use, they see it "as digital colonialism". Zuckerberg wants to expand Free Basics even to Europe, we think that's a really horrible idea!

There are other alternatives, like the Alliance for affordable Internet and many other forms of zero-rating that are application-agnostic and don't interfere with the equal choices of users.

elvismiggell18 karma

What impact do you think Brexit or Bremain could have on your efforts?

SaveTheInternetEU28 karma

Oh, that's a tough one! Honestly, we don't know. Nobody does. What I can say is that the UK regulator Ofcom is really fighting net neutrality wherever they can. Only the Swedes are worse, in fact.

If UK decides to leave a lengthly negotiation will start about the conditions of their exit. So there will be serious long-term repercussions, but it is not clear yet if Ofcom would have a seat at the table for the final decision on 30. August.

HMJ8712 karma

UK regulator Ofcom is really fighting net neutrality wherever they can.

That really surprises me. They're a regulator not a lobbying group, you'd think they'd either support net neutrality or take a neutral stance rather than pushing for consumer-unfriendly legislation like has been proposed in the US. Do you have a source on that?

EDIT: From OFCOM's own website:

  • We recognise the benefits associated with 'best-efforts' internet access and the provision of managed services, and seek for them to co-exist.

  • We would be concerned if network operators were to prioritise managed services in a manner that leaves insufficient network capacity for 'best-efforts' access to the open internet. In such circumstances we would consider using the powers which allow us to safeguard 'best-efforts' access to the open internet by imposing a minimum quality of service on all communications providers.

  • We regard any blocking of alternative services by providers of internet access as highly undesirable. Where providers of internet access apply traffic management in a discriminatory manner, our view is that this could have a similar impact to outright blocking. Our current view is that we should be able to rely on the operation of market forces to address the issues of blocking and discrimination, but we will keep this position under review.

  • Effective competition requires that sufficient information is available to enable consumers to make good purchasing decisions. This document sets out our current view as to what we believe to be necessary, both in terms of technical information on traffic management practices, and transparency as to services which are blocked or discriminated against.

Full statement: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/net-neutrality/statement/

So doesn't look like they're "fighting net neutrality" as OP put it, they're taking a stance that says companies are allowed to use traffic management tools but not to the extent that allows discriminatory practices like throttling certain sites over others etc. So as expected they're taking a balanced approach that tries to keep the interests of both the providers and the consumers at heart and doesn't take one side over the other, unlike the US which is heavily weighted in favour of the providers with no regard for the consumer.

SaveTheInternetEU1 karma

What else should they write as "independent regulator". But the revolving door problem between industry and regulator is very strong in the UK. Sadly the negotiations are not public and we have no official record on the position that various countries are taking within BEREC. But we have spoken with many regulators around Europe in the past months and the picture on their behaviour has been confirmed by many sources.

The argumentation of Ofcom (UK) and PTS (Sweden) rests upon this weird study which basically says all regulations on traffic prioritisation is wrong: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/technology-research/2015/traffic-management-detection.pdf

ssshadow4 karma

Only the Swedes are worse, in fact.

I live in Sweden and this is the first time I have heard of this. Who are fighting net neutrality?

SaveTheInternetEU2 karma

I recommend you this post and get in contact with Mab: http://mab.nu/2016/05/24/natneutralitet-pts-och-telia/

You can find more information about the Swedish situation and the criticism about the recent Facebook-Telia zero-rating deal here: SW: http://www.svd.se/regeringen-maste-agera-for-ett-oppet-internet/om/internationella-pressfrihetsdagen EN: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=4042&artikel=6424288

The reaction of PTS was that they "investigate". But at the same time they negotiate the rules under which they have to assess such zero-rating deals. Somebody has to ask them publicly what their stance is so Sweden can have a debate!

Cygnus--X19 karma

If you're talking about net neutrality, you're also talking about cutting off services which are in some way beneficial to customers (like free unlimited Spotify-subscriptions). Not considering the long term effects of "better competition in the market", do you think this (immediate) negative side-effect of net neutrality will make customers/voters more opposed to new regulations?

SaveTheInternetEU21 karma

Zero-rating is very seductive because it looks like you get something "for free", but why would a company do that? There is always a hidden cost and in this case it is more control about what users do online. We made a whole video about this question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv3DeyqZzOg

MaeveTheBrave6 karma

What are some of the ways you will accomplish your goals?

SaveTheInternetEU12 karma

We're working with over 20 NGOs all over the world to get our message out. We know the public is on our side, it's just a matter of persuading people to get active.

That's why we've created a tool at savetheinternet.eu to make it easier to respond to these complicated consultations and support net neutrality. And we know this works. We did it in the US, we did it in India, and we can do it again in Europe.

So what we need is exposure, we need people to realise how important this is. We are lucky to have a 'snippet' running on the FireFox home page right now, and we're also planning a big online protest day on the 28th of June. More to come!

trivorow4 karma

What kind of things could happen if these laws went unfixed or worst were twisted even worse?

SaveTheInternetEU14 karma

The internet we know wouldn't last long.

Without rules, we would get something more like Cable TV. You sign up with one big company, based on their content offers.

With weak rules, the internet would become terrible unequal. Big sites getting faster and faster, and smaller ones slowing down. On the long term, this scenario could become just as bad.

traj213 karma

What did you learn from net neutrality campaign in India?

SaveTheInternetEU6 karma

Indian civil society did really phenomenal work last semester. They showed us net neutrality can really resonate with the general population. It's not just something for tech experts.

And we also learned that online consultations work. If we can get millions of responses to our tool at www.savetheinternet.eu, like Indian activists achieved in their country, we stand a really good chance of winning this.

chilltrek972 karma

If the worst scenario happens, can you paint it with a couple of sentences?

If the worst does happen, do you think that the internet that exists now will gradually lose its user base which could migrate to alternative solutions (mesh networks, etc.)?

SaveTheInternetEU2 karma

The worst case scenario would be a segmented Internet in wich each online service has a price tag and the barrier for new competitors or ideas is insurmountable high in comparison to the Internet we have today, much like cable television.

In such a system specialised services (paid fast-lanes) are used for normal online services to give them unfair advantages over competitors. Specialised services cannibalise the bandwidth of the normal Internet and make it slower.

Zero-rating is applied on a wide scale and users can only choose between the few zero-rated applications instead of buying application-agnostic data volume which grants them access to the full Internet.

Extensive traffic management leads to the death of the best effort Internet. All data packages are given a quality classes by the ISP at all times, even without actual congestion.

All these threads are on the table with the current BEREC draft guidelines. Therefore you should get active before 18. July.

adamtherealone2 karma

What's your favorite color?

SaveTheInternetEU4 karma

I personally find the magenta of Deutsche Telekom particular distasteful. ;p

iktnl1 karma

What are the implications for countries that already had a stricter net neutrality law?

How do you think about the situation in the Netherlands?

SaveTheInternetEU1 karma

The EU regulation is above national law in EU countries. Therefore these rules apply to all 500 million EU citizens, including Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein.

This EU decision will also affect the rest of the world because it will set an example. If we win this then the global trend towards net neutrality in democratic countries is almost unstoppable. If we lose this could be dangerous downwards spiral.

The Netherlands are a good example for net neutrality. They've been early with protecting net neutrality by law.

SamparkSharma1 karma

How much of your effort is going into Eastern European countries like Poland where not just the internet, but the entire media neutrality is under threat?

SaveTheInternetEU1 karma

I (Thomas Lohninger) have personally focussed on the eastern european countries as I am from Austria which has close ties to the region. I had meetings with various consumer protection and civil society groups as well as with regulators to present our views in Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria. We should focus more on these countries with this issue and with others.

monochrome_is_best1 karma

How can you enforce net neutrality in every corner of the internet? Surely there will always be some companies forcing people to use certain programmes etc?

SaveTheInternetEU3 karma

Saying you cannot protect net neutrality locally is like saying you can't protect freedom of speech locally. Its all about limiting the possibilities for discrimination and protecting the Internet as an open platform.

Of course the Internet is global and jurisdictions are always limited. But we are talking about half a billion people that will live under these rules. If the EU succeeds in protecting net neutrality the global trend after USA, Canada, India, Brasil and many other Latin American countries might be unstoppable.

We cannot solve all issues in this one fight. There are demarcation problems to other forms of corporate influence on the Internet. But the good thing about the net neutrality debate is that contrary to data protection or copyright this fight could be won right now.