Schroedinger’s net neutrality

Thomas Lohninger

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The fight for net neutrality in the EU is waging for many years. Since ex-commissioner Neelie Kroes presented her infamous proposal to allow all forms of network discrimination in 2013 the USA have changed their course twice and finally implemented legal safeguards for net neutrality to protect the innovative potential of their digital economy. Other countries have already applied their existing net neutrality laws and could prevent violations of the principle with good results. Meanwhile in the global south millions of people protest against plans of massively violating net neutrality and argue that and similar zero-rating projects are “economic racism”. The EU will have non of it.

In Europe all three institutions have agreed on a text for net neutrality that is a little bit like Schrodinger’s cat – it could allow protection against network discrimination or it could legalise it. So far we don’t know and even the politicians who will vote on it don’t. The text is written so badly, ambiguous and contradictory that only regulators and courts can give it real meaning in the future.

Next month the European Parliament will have to vote. This talks tries to give an understanding of where we are, how we got there and which path we have to go forward.