EU Divided on Issue of Net Neutrality

TECHNOLOGY, 1 Dec 2014

Alex Hern – The Guardian

European commission vice-president for single digital market has criticised Italian proposals to weaken net neutrality within the common market.

The European commission’s vice president for the digital single market has expressed his concern over Italian proposals to give network providers the ability to offer different speeds to different sites.

Andrus Ansip, the former Estonian prime minister, said he was “really worried” about the new plans in an interview with Reuters.

In a leaked document dated 14 November, Italy, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, suggested removing the definitions of “net neutrality” and “specialised services”; the latter are seen by net neutrality proponents as little more than a euphemistic term for offering an internet fast lane to paying customers.

In their place would be “clear principles for traffic management in general, as we’ll as the obligation to maintain sufficient network capacity for the internet access service regardless of other services also delivered over the same access.”

In contrast to the proposals, Ansip told Reuters that “all the traffic has to be treated equally… The internet has to stay open for everybody.”

He cited the support of President Obama for the original EU proposals, saying “the president of the United States is using our wording – the wording of the European Parliament in the United States of America”.

Torrent sites blocked in UK

While the EU focuses on net neutrality, six UK ISPs have been required to block access to yet more torrent sites, “including,,, and”, according to industry site TorrentFreak.

Britain’s internet censorship system, originally built around preventing access to child abuse images, has been extended to cover sites which promote copyright infringement since the Pirate Bay was blocked in February 2012.

BT and Sky have now implemented the latest load of changes, preventing direct access for their subscribers (although the blocks are easily circumvented by users with a VPN), but BT has gone one step further and blocked access to other torrent sites as well.

“Over the past several days TorrentFreak has received reports from several users of private torrent sites who get an “error blocked” message instead of their favorite sites. These include the popular and trackers,” TorrentFreak reports. “However, there is no known court decision that requires BT to block these URLs. In fact, no UK ISP has ever blocked a private torrent site before.”

  • The headline, subheading and caption on this article were amended on 28 November. The earlier headline said the European commission was divided on net neutrality, and the earlier caption described Andrus Ansip as commissioner-designate.

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