Plenary speech on the open internet and net neutrality in Europe

Marietje
Mr President, the internet was created with no specific use in mind other than the efficient transfer of information. Over the last 20 years the internet and technology have developed at an extremely rapid pace, giving rise to huge economic and social benefits. The key driver of this unprecedented innovation has been that all information flows and services are treated more or less equally, conforming with the principle of net neutrality. Recently, a major telecoms provider in the Netherlands bragged to shareholders about its throttling of the voice over IP and messaging services that directly compete with its core business of selling text messages and calling minutes. Within hours it became known that all major providers in the Netherlands did the same. The Dutch Parliament was quick to react and legally ensured net neutrality. It is not the job of governments to protect certain business models, and the Dutch minister said that the company had clearly overplayed its hand. Consumers pay too much, and transparency clearly has not worked in practice. I do not imagine that Dutch telecom providers are the only ones guilty of these practices, and we need to ensure that there is an EU-wide level playing field. The research by BEREC will show what is happening, and perhaps the Dutch example can serve as an EU-wide example. In any case, the wait-and-see approach of the Commission with regard to net neutrality is hurting consumers, innovation, competition and society as a whole. Transparency from providers and the ability for consumers to switch easily between providers are not enough on their own, and deep-packet traffic inspection methods are threatening fundamental rights.