Katie Collins at Cnet: The European Parliament passes legislation that would let companies pay to prioritize their Internet traffic. Opponents included Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and the likes of Netflix and Reddit.
The European Parliament has rejected key rules designed to secure the future of the open Internet, potentially threatening the way residents get their online fix.
Members of the European Parliament voted Tuesday to allow companies to pay for the privilege of having their traffic prioritized in “fast lanes” and did not eliminate the potential for Internet service providers to change traffic speeds.
For consumers, that could over time prove disruptive to their daily habits of watching streaming video, uploading photos to social media sites or doing online shopping. Some services could bog down if providers don’t pay for access to higher Internet speeds, or speedy services could end up costing more.
Four significant amendments were rejected just before the Parliament voted to adopt legislation governing Net neutrality, the concept that all online traffic should be treated equally. A premise behind Net neutrality is that every company can start on equal footing when competing in the digital economy.
The rejected amendments were supported by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and a long list of rights groups, academics and businesses, including Netflix, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy and BitTorrent. In a blog post ahead of the vote, Berners-Lee reminded politicians that he built the Web on the principle of openness and that this principle led to its current ubiquity.
The amendments ensure “economic growth and social progress” in Europe, he said in a blog post. Rejecting them would “threaten innovation, free speech and privacy, and compromise Europe’s ability to lead in the digital economy,” he added.
What will now follow is a nine-month consultation period during which rights groups and regulators will seek to clarify the legal text and to establish how the Internet should be governed.
Web Foundation – Net Neutrality in Europe: A Statement from Sir Tim Berners-Lee