Why do we need Net Neutrality?
This principle of Net Neutrality is fundamental for the protection of essential values of our societies:
An Internet provider can easily favour their services over their competitors' if they are allowed to do things that go against the concept of Net Neutrality. In France for example, three operators "forbid" their mobile internet customers to use Voice over IP software (VoIP, e.g. Skype), forcing them to pay their national and international communications at the (higher) rates offered by their network. These anti-competitive practices are harmful to consumers, economic growth and innovation.
Net Neutrality ensures that new entrants into the digital economy find a relatively level playing-field, at least with regard to access to broadband networks. Without Net Neutrality, broadband operators can charge Internet service providers in order to "prioritise" access to them. The initial over-head of start-ups would therefore be much more significant.
Since its creation the Internet has develops thanks "Some guys in a garage somewhere" that developed myriads of projects and tiny start-ups, amongst other, Google, Wikipedia, Skype, eBay, BitTorrent, Twitter... This "innovation without licence" is healthy and provivides significant stimulus to the economy.
- Liberties and fundamental rights
The article 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 proclaims: "The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law."
The French Constitutional Council, confirming what the European Parliament has already expressed, enriched the article by declaring:
"As is means of communication and in consideration of the development generalized by communication's services to the online public as well as to the importance taken by these services for the participation in the democratic life and the expression of the ideas and the opinions, this right involves the freedom to reach these services."
Today, Internet is a essential tool of exercise of the freedom of expression and communication for the smooth running of our democracies.
Blogs, microblogs, social networks and instant messagings are so many new methods to participate in the public debate. In a democracy, only a judge must be able to restrict the citizens' fundamental liberties such the freedom of expression. What will it happen if the control of these new tools would be offered to companies?
Why is Net Neutrality in danger?
The Internet is developing and growing constantly, making bigger and bigger demands on networks. Until now, when networks were saturated, network operators invested in more bandwidth and increased the power of the global infrastructure. While users paid for access to the internet, broadband operators did not charge internet service providers (ISP, those entitites providing services such as google, duckduckgo, yahoo, skype, dropbox, linphone,...). They are now developing a business model that would allow them to charge users (individuals at home, companies that require access to the internet) and ISPs but promising greater speed for certain services. This discrimination would break Net Neutrality rules. This would give network operators much more power to discriminate on Internet communications. Although telecom operators keep arguing that technically, they need to be able to favour some internet packages (data, communication) over other, and used to argument to pursuade the European Parliament (unsuccessfully), it is not technically true if they were willing to reinvest their profits in more infrastructure.