Why Net neutrality has to be preserved

The Net neutrality principle, coined by Tim Wu professor in 2003, review to non discrimination and transparency in bringing traffic on the public network. As we will see, this principle is also a synonym for liberty and equality.

From a semantic point of view, neutrality especially means impartiality and objectivity, which fits to technicity. Indeed, all data is being brought and treated in the same way on the Internet, from their origin point to their final destination. Concretely, the network does not take any account of the content of the packet which will be processed. Then, the ways of blocking the datas’ transmission, traffic damages or the slowdown of the traffic, related to the datas’ type, origin and destination go against the net neutrality principle.

Internet has to remain out of any influences from the States and companies. The network must stay accessible for all with the same access conditions worldwide.

According to this principle, « any user must have, through the network, an access to the whole content, services and applications available on the Internet, however each person delivers or uses them»   according to the ARCEP.

With this being said, the respect of public order requires to control illicit content and other illicit behavior. Net neutrality does not mean that Internet is a law free zone but on the contrary, the law must lead to make the Internet a place where anyone can post contents in the same conditions. According to professor Tim Wu, no operator should operate restrictions between applications and content shared on the network. He insists on equal treatment of all the actors on the network. Communications network have to aim for neutrality.

There is a definition of Net neutrality which is commonly accepted by all the actors of the process. This is the exclusion of all discriminations from the source, the destination and the content of the information shared on the network.

The right of the Internet must pursue in following these definitions of net neutrality. The adoption of a first version of the new regulatory framework will allow internet access providers to charge privileged access to website. This could create a two-tier Internet.


Net neutrality is consumer choice:

 If net neutrality laws are not passed to protect the free and open web, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast (which was recently named “The Worst Business in America” for the second time by The Consumerist) would effectively become arbiters of what customers can see, when you can see it, and how much extra you’ll be expected to pay to see it.

Net neutrality is essential to consumer choice. If ISPs get to choose which sites are seen and when, millions of businesses – large and small alike – will suffer, and so will consumers.

Unless the web remains free and open, consumers will have one choice – their ISPs will.


Net neutrality is innovation: 

Many of Silicon Valley’s biggest players have humble beginnings. Internet marketing’s largest (and most profitable) advertising platforms, including Google and Facebook, were highly innovative ideas that the open internet helped grow and propagate. Without net neutrality, these and countless other technological success stories would likely never have materialized.

 Unless the web remains free and open, true innovation will slow to a crawl, costing businesses and the overall economy billions of dollars, and further tip the balance of power in favor of the ISPs.


Net neutrality is already in danger:

For many marketers, net neutrality isn’t even an issue, let alone a problem deserving of real action or support. However, the free and open web is already under threat, and has been for years:

–       In 2007, evidence came to light that Comcast was interfering with customers’ use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer services – whether for legal purposes or otherwise.

–       Between 2007 and 2011, Canadian ISP Rogers engaged in discriminatory traffic shaping practices by reducing speeds of all encrypted traffic – including online gaming and other perfectly legal services.

–       In January, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Federal Communications Commission had overstepped its authority in banning ISPs from throttling traffic as part of its proposed Open Internet Order – a severe blow to net neutrality.

–       In February, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast an undisclosed sum to ensure that its streaming video content reaches consumers more quickly after months of being throttled – paving the way for similar deals.

–       In February again Comcast (the country’s largest cable and internet provider) announced its plans to merge with Time Warner Cable (the country’s second-largest). This proposed merger would create a towering monopolistic behemoth, the likes of which have never been seen, further consolidating Comcast’s considerable power and severely reducing consumer choice.

Problem is that Internet behemoths can offer themselves the periodization to increase their prices (unfortunately for the customers). Smaller Internet actors would be confined to a second-class Internet.

Associations like “Quadrature du Net” have been fighting for years in order to maintain the net neutrality and their voice has been heard.

Nevertheless, it seems very difficult to fight against Internet giants, their winning would be characterized by a monopolistic situation on the network, and then would killed the goose that lays the golden egg.

Legislation still stands as a solution, at a national level (what have been announced by the French government but finally postponed) or at a European level.

To be continued…


Christophe PUECH:
Etudiant en Master 2 Droit de l’Economie Numérique à l’Université de Strasbourg.
LinkedIn couleur

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