Consumer group alliance calls for net-neutrality

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Jun 26, 2007
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A coalition of EU and US consumer organisations collectively known as the Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialog (TACD) has called on governments on both sides of the Pond to implement and enforce the practice of net-neutrality.
"Net neutrality is a state in which users have the freedom to access the content, services, applications, and devices of their choice," said the TACD in a declaration. (PDF link)
ISPs prevent VoIP
Citing a number of examples in Canada and the US where ISPs had prevented customers from using VoIP services from competing companies over their networks, the TACD called for regulation to prevent ISPs from infringing their customers’ quality of service with anti-competitive practices.
Citing examples of employees blocking employers from accessing trade union sites the TACD also called for regulations to ensure ISPs are not allowed to control users access to sites they might deem to be harmful to their own interests. **
A neutral internet
Explaining its vision, the TACD defined a ‘neutral internet’ as one in which consumers have three basic rights: to "attach devices of their choice," to provide or access "private content, services, and applications of their choice," and the ability to use these rights without "discrimination according to source, destination, content, or type of application."
In other words the TACD wants to ensure that ISPs cannot block, degrade, prioritize, or discriminate against certain kinds of data, services, applications, or devices.
"National regulators should ensure that ISPs comply with the above mentioned principles by regularly reviewing the practices of ISPs … conducting independent testing for blocking, degradation, or other discriminatory action," the TACD said in a statement.
Virgin Media hostility
While customers are bound to welcome the proposals, some ISPs have already declared their hostility. None more so that Virgin Media CEO Steve Berkett, who’s down on record as saying net neutrality was “a load of bollocks”.
Virgin Media is one ISP that’s known to employ traffic throttling, and has also reportedly entered into deals to deliver some content faster than others. Steve Burkett was criticised earlier in the year when he suggested that those who weren’t prepared to “pay up” would find themselves put in the “bus lane”.
TechRadar did contact UK regulator Ofcom for comment on the TACDs proposals for net neutrality, but at the time of going to press we were still awaiting a reply. Rest assured that we’ll update the story as and when we do hear from them.