Calling the UK Minister to act to protect the open Internet
Today, a group of 18 organizations representing a broad spectrum of society and the economy has sent an open letter to Ed Vaizey, MP (PDF), the UK Minister in charge of digital issues, to call on the UK Government to reflect their recent commitment to the open Internet in action on the ground. Skype is part of this initiative because we believe it is important to remind policy makers, local governments and regulators throughout Europe that a verbal commitment will not be sufficient to establish and protect openness.
We strongly welcome the UK Government’s recent statement of support for the open Internet, but we must not forget about the existing restrictions in place in the UK and many other countries around the globe. For example, in countries like France, Germany, Spain, or the UK (to name only a few), several, if not all, mobile operators prohibit their customers from using Skype on their mobiles or they only allow Skype usage at extra cost. Similar restrictions affect many other uses of the Internet, such as video, audio, instant messaging, streaming, P2P, etc. In order to remove these restrictions, the governments and regulatory authorities in these countries – including the UK – need to make sure that:
- Users can send and receive the content, use the services and run the applications of their choice on the Internet, on the device of their choice
- Traffic management is kept to a minimum, and only in place for purely technical or security reasons
- There is meaningful transparency for consumers about traffic management
- New models of Internet access don’t compromise openness
- Effective enforcement mechanisms are in place to ensure openness
As I stated in an earlier blog post, we already have European legislation to protect net neutrality and the open Internet. That’s a great first step. Now, it is crucial that national authorities take it from there and start to implement these rules in order to protect the open Internet and associated consumer rights on the ground, and pave the way for future innovation on the Internet – in ways that will benefit the whole value chain, and the wider economy and society.