Net neutrality. Multistakeholder statement draft. Version 0.0

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Net neutrality. Multistakeholder statement

I. Human rights perspective

(more information about the changes from this version to version 1.0)


The Network Neutrality principle plays an instrumental role in fostering the full enjoyment of Internet users' human rights; in promoting competition on a level playing field; in allowing permissionless innovation; and safeguarding the generative nature of the Internet.

1. Network Neutrality Principle

Network neutrality is the principle according to which Internet traffic shall be treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference regardless of its sender, recipient, type or content, so that Internet users’ freedom of choice is not restricted by favouring or disfavouring the transmission of specific Internet traffic, regardless of whether such favouring or disfavouring is based on: technical measures, such as blocking, throttling, filtering or prioritisation; financial measures, such as zero-rating, or the application of different rates for different types of content and services; or any other measures leading to uneven treatment of services.

2. Non-discriminatory Traffic Management

In accordance with the network neutrality principle, Internet service providers shall refrain from restricting or otherwise interfering with the Internet users' right to freely seek, impart and receive information and ideas via the Internet. Accordingly, Internet service provider should manage the transmission of Internet traffic in a non-discriminatory manner.

3. Transparent traffic management

Internet service providers shall provide intelligible and transparent information with regard to their traffic management practices and usage polices, notably with regard to the coexistence of Internet access service and other services.

4. Privacy

Any techniques to inspect or analyse Internet traffic shall be in accordance with privacy and data protection legislation, and done in a way conducive to exercising of relevant human rights.

5. Implementation

The competent national authority shall be mandated to regularly monitor and report on Internet traffic management practices and usage polices, in order to ensure network neutrality.

II. Business perspective

1. Net Neutrality is the principle that the Internet should be open and accessible to all people. Net neutrality holds that people should be able to purchase access to the whole Internet value chain and that the content, applications and online services should be available to all citizens in the Internet. In accordance with such principle, market participants shall refrain from behaving in a non-competitive way to the detriment of consumers or other market participants. The best way to ensure net neutrality is by means of preserving full competition among access services to the Internet as well as in all other elements of the Internet value chain, and by ensuring transparency to end users providing clear and meaningful information on Internet access services that facilitates informed customer choices when matching offers with their heterogeneous demands.

2. A set of general and global principles would best suit an Internet in permanent evolution. Net neutrality guidelines should promote access and openness, while encouraging network operators and Internet players to innovate and deliver the ample range of services demanded by customers, assure a satisfactory user experience over the Internet, and promote the goal of universal internet connectivity. The possibility to provide commercially differentiated offers, including services based on QoS (i.e. specialised services) and to develop yet unforeseen new business models along the digital value chain has to be preserved as a mean to increase customer choice. Managing Internet traffic for technical and commercial purposes in a transparent manner that does not block or throttle such traffic on the basis of sender, receiver, content, application, service or device best serves the interests of the end-users and all Internet players by preserving a enjoyable Internet experience.

III. End-user perspective

1. Internet access services enable end-users to communicate, to access content and to use Internet applications. They also enable end-users to provide Internet content and to develop their own Internet applications. In general, users expect Internet traffic that they send and receive to be conveyed in a manner that is independent of its source, content or destination and in a manner that respects their privacy. The continued success of the Internet as a communications medium and an engine for innovation and growth depends upon end-user Internet traffic being treated in a neutral manner by Internet service providers.

2. Choice and transparency are at the heart of a user’s Internet experience, enabling them to remain in control of their Internet experience, and thereby allowing them to benefit from, and participate in, the open Internet. End-users may choose to block, prioritise or otherwise modify Internet traffic they send or receive but do not expect to have these choices made for them by third-parties.

Technical definitions

Internet: The Internet is the globally accessible electronic communications network of networks that use IETF-specified best current practices and protocols, including the Internet Protocol, for communication between endpoints reachable, directly or through network address translation, via a globally unique Internet address.

Specialized/Managed Services: Specialized/Managed Services are electronic communications services that are built using the Internet Protocol, but that operate within a restricted set of networks, or only one network. Specialized/Managed services are not part of the Internet. They are often optimized for a single service or service type, and rely on a single administrative domain controlling admission to the network in order to ensure (or enforce) specific service characteristics. They may not conform to the full set of Internet best practices, including network management techniques.

Internet access service: Internet access service is an electronic communications service that provides connection of an Internet endpoint or network to the rest of the Internet with non-discriminatory, best-effort routing of data packets as part of the Internet. Internet access service provides the ability for end-users and Internet service providers alike to send and receive data from and to the Internet.

Peering, Paid peering, and Transit: Internet service providers connect their subscribers to the Internet. The Internet itself is composed of many autonomous networks, therefore service providers must interconnect with other service providers to deliver Internet service. There are two main forms of interconnection: peering and transit. Peering is where two networks agree to interconnect (for no charge, in most cases) to exchange data imparted and received by their customers. Transit is where a network pays a transit provider (which is a network operator with global reach) for connectivity to all the networks with which it doesn’t have peering relationships. Paid peering, although not new, is a relatively uncommon interconnection arrangement where networks agree to interconnect in the same way as a normal (settlement-free) peering arrangement (just exchanging data imparted and received by their customers), but payment is made from one network to the other for this service.