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Draft statement on net neutrality. 2.0

Human rights perspective

The network neutrality principle plays an instrumental role in fostering the full enjoyment of Internet users' human rights as well as preserving Internet openness.  Network neutrality is the principle according to which Internet traffic shall be treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independent of the sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application so that Internet users’ freedom is not restricted.

In accordance with the network neutrality principle, Internet access providers shall not restrict Internet users' right to freely seek, impart and receive information and ideas via the Internet. Accordingly, Internet access providers should manage the transmission of Internet traffic in a non-discriminatory manner and shall provide meaningful, intelligible and transparent information with regard to their Internet access service and traffic management practices, notably with regard to the coexistence of Internet access service and other services. In general, all players in the Internet ecosystem shall comply with privacy and data protection legislation, and act in a respectful way with relevant human rights. Accordingly, any techniques to inspect or analyse Internet traffic shall be in accordance with privacy and data protection legislation.

In order to ensure network neutrality, guaranteeing the full enjoyment of Internet users’ human rights, the competent national authority shall be mandated to regularly monitor, conduct independent testing and report on Internet traffic management practices and usage policies.

End-user perspective

Internet access services enable end-users to communicate, to access, deliver and share content and Internet applications. In general, users expect Internet traffic that they send and receive to be conveyed in a manner that is independent of its source, content or destination and in a manner that respects their privacy. The continued success of the Internet as a communications medium and an engine for innovation and growth depends upon the continued enablement of new services and applications and end-user Internet traffic not being blocked or otherwise degraded by Internet service providers or other actors in the Internet ecosystem.

Choice and transparency are at the heart of a user’s Internet experience, enabling them to remain in control of their Internet experience, and thereby allowing them to benefit from, and participate in, the open Internet. Internet subscribers may choose to block, prioritise or otherwise modify Internet traffic they send or receive but do not expect to have these choices made for them by third-parties without their consent.

Business perspective

The Internet should be open and accessible to all people in a non-discriminatory fashion. Net neutrality holds that subscribers of Internet access services should be able to access and share content, applications and online services of their choice, when legally entitled to do so. In accordance with such principle, market participants shall refrain from behaving in an anti-competitive way to the detriment of consumers or competition. To safeguard net neutrality it is essential to preserve effective competition among providers of access services to the Internet as well as in all other elements of the Internet ecosystem as well as to ensure transparency to end users by providing clear and meaningful information that facilitates informed customer choices when matching offers with their heterogeneous demands.

A set of general and global principles would best suit an Internet in permanent evolution. It is important to note that a “one size fits all” approach would not best benefit different countries and regions. Open Internet guidelines should promote access and openness, while encouraging network operators and Internet players to innovate and deliver the ample range of services demanded by customers, assure a satisfactory user experience over the Internet and promote the goal of universal internet connectivity. The possibility to provide commercially differentiated offers, including specialised services (see technical definitions section below) whilst at the same time providing strong safeguards preserving open and robust Internet access services, in order to develop yet unforeseen new business models along the digital value chain has to be preserved as a mean to increase customer choice. In order to best serve the interests of the end-users and all Internet players, providers of Internet access services shall not block, throttle or discriminate against specific content, applications or services except as necessary and for as long as necessary for the application of reasonable traffic management. Reasonable Internet traffic management is justified provided it is done in a transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate manner.

Technical definitions

  • Internet: The Internet is the globally accessible electronic communications network of networks that uses IETF-specified best current practices and protocols, including the Internet Protocol, for communication between endpoints reachable, directly or through network address translation, via a globally unique Internet address.
  • Specialized/Managed Services: Specialized/Managed Services are electronic communications services that are built using the Internet Protocol, but that operate within a restricted set of networks, or only one network. Specialized/Managed services are not part of the Internet, although they may share infrastructure with Internet services. They are often optimized for a single service or service type, and rely on a single administrative domain controlling admission to the network in order to ensure (or enforce) specific service characteristics. They may not conform to the full set of Internet best practices, including network management techniques. Delivering Specialized/Managed services over infrastructure shared with Internet service requires that Internet service providers supply (both public and contractual) information on the average speeds they actually provide for Internet service to their customers during normal and peak times, data volume limitations, and traffic management practices.
  • Internet access service: Internet access service is an electronic communications service that provides connection of an Internet endpoint or network to the rest of the Internet with best-effort routing of data packets as part of the Internet. Internet access service provides the ability for end-users and Internet service providers alike to send and receive data from and to the Internet.
  • Internet Access Provider: Internet access providers are any legal persons that offer Internet access service to the public or Internet transit service to another Internet access provider.

 

NOTE :

As no common grounds could be found on the issue of « Zero Rating », the working group agreed to avoid the inclusion of specific provisions aimed at framing this issue.

 

 

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