You may be aware of heated debate in the US over Net Neutrality, with the FCC threatening to end this valuable principle. I’m proud and relieved that the UK has Net Neutrality, and am fearful of the future of the internet if the US loses it.
The fight for Net Neutrality is important to consumers, to small business, and to the future. The internet is built on the freedom of ideas. Ideas that have improved the quality of our lives and disrupted stagnating industries. Innovation thrives on the internet being open.
If corporations such as Comcast and Verizon control the flow of internet traffic, such traffic is no longer the people’s. Small business will never be able to compete against web giants with the money to pay off ISPs, and consumers will pay more depending on what they use the internet for. In Portugal, for example, where there is no net Net Neutrality, customers are forced to pay for add ons to their internet bills if they wish to use social networks or streaming services not owned by their ISP. Portugal’s web is hostile to business and consumers.
For the UK to remain competitive in a future built on connectivity, the government must promise that Net Neutrality is here to stay. We must state our intentions post-Brexit that we encourage tech startups to build their bases here, where all of our web traffic is equal.
And in urgency, we must disavow the words of Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman promising to end Neutrality in the country that allowed Apple to go from a garage to the most valuable company in the world, and Netflix from a DVD distributer to an Oscar-winning content powerhouse. We must stand up for startup tech firms in the US and remind the FCC and the Trump administration that the internet is valuable, will soon be a human right, and is not to be messed with.
This letter was sent to Mark Prisk MP on 22nd November 2017, and the following reply was received on the 29th November.
Dear Mr Liu,
Thank you for contacting me about net neutrality. I take your point about the issue in the USA.
In addition to the self-regulatory Open Internet Code of Practice which all the main UK Internet Service Providers have signed up to, the UK is currently subject to net neutrality rules under EU regulation. This regulation prevents internet service providers from blocking, slowing down or otherwise interfering with services or content unless for specific exceptions (such as to deal with temporary network congestion).
In order to ensure the immediate continuity of legislation after we exit the EU, over the coming months the Government will be converting EU law into UK law through the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. This means that the net neutrality rules will continue to be in place after we leave the EU.
Moving forward, I support the Government’s commitment to a free and open internet as the bedrock for a thriving and innovative digital economy. I know that Ministers have made clear that users of internet services should be able to access the services they wish to, without unnecessary blocking or slowing down by providers.
In future, if the Government was to consider any proposals to change the current net neutrality rules, this would be subject to public consultation.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Mark Prisk MP