Google, Netflix and other Internet firms raised a glass to MEPs after the European Parliament added a net neutrality clause to the latest round of telecoms reforms proposed by the continent’s decision makers.
The restrictions were introduced by MEPs as late amendments to a package of telecoms reforms that also included European Parliament approval for the abolition of roaming charges across the EU.
The MEP amendment states "traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independent of the sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application."
MEPs passing the bill marks a significant defeat for the likes of Vodafone and other network operators that had lobbied hard to be able to charge heavy-usage Internet companies more money and the industry has indicated that it will continue to fight its corner.
“We are confident that the upcoming work of the EU decision makers will acknowledge such risk and will embrace the spirit of the Commission’s original proposal, confirming that the EU seeks solutions for growth, and not populist measures,” stated Luigi Gambardella, chairman of the Brussels-based lobbying group ETNO, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Opponents of the principal in the EU have argued that allowing providers to charge different amounts would mean that startups and smaller companies wouldn’t be on a level playing field compared to those that can afford the charges.
“The regulation means that for the first time net neutrality is properly defined and protected in law, making sure that all Internet traffic is treated equally,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. “Amendments brought in by an alliance of Socialists, Greens and Liberals closed down loopholes that would allow the creation of a two-tier Internet.”
The EU had been working on the bill since 2013 and the continent’s approach is at odds with the US, where a court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission does not have the authority to impose net neutrality rules.
The likes of Google and Netflix have lobbied hard from their side of the fence and are still in for a fight as a full European Parliament vote is needed in order to enshrine it into law following the European elections later this year.