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Europe may have some looming net neutrality issues of its own

Published Mar 19th, 2014 10:00PM EDT
Europe Net Neutrality Issues

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It’s not just U.S. consumers that need to worry, at least for the time being, about recent decisions that affect net neutrality, The Next Web reports. The European Union’s Industry Committee voted on Tuesday to implement an anti-roaming charges plan that could also allow Internet service providers to prioritize certain types of traffic as long as they’re marked as “specialized services” and don’t interfere with other services provided by ISPs.

The EU announced that it wants to remove all roaming charges for mobile devices, including voice, text and data, starting with December 15, 2015. In preparation of the move, the EU said that certain roaming charges would still be maintained in order to prevent “anomalous or abusive usage of retail roaming charges,” but also inserted “strict rules,” that would prevent ISPs from “degrading or blocking Internet connections to their competitors’ services and applications.”

However, the EU still left a door open for ISPs, which will be able to monetize differently “specialized services.”

“Companies would still able to offer specialized services of higher quality, such as video on demand and business-critical data-intensive cloud applications, provided that this does not interfere with the Internet speeds promised to other customers,” the EU said in a press release. “Measures to block or slow down the Internet would be allowed only in exceptional cases, e.g. where specifically ordered by a court.”

However, the European Digital Rights (EDRi) organization believes the decision should be overturned, as the “Industry’s Committee’s text is confused, misleading and contradictory.”

“The outcome is more loophole than law, a cynical exercise that talks about outlawing discrimination while effectively permitting it,” EDRi writes, adding that it will permit telecoms companies to “restrict access to their customers – essentially creating a new monopoly – the same kind of monopoly that caused high mobile phone charges.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.