“Three wise monkeys” dominate net neutrality debate

A UK academic has called on the European Commission and regulators to apply closer scrutiny before accepting industry points of view in the net neutrality debate.

The Open Internet and Net Neutrality in Europe summit taking place in Brussels today follows the closure of the EU consultation on net neutrality.

There are three wise monkeys on net neutrality that are seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil

The consensus of the consultation was that net neutrality was important, but that it didn’t necessarily need regulating as current rules were effective enough to keep the internet an open environment.

However, the vast majority of the responses to the consultation came from businesses and trade bodies, leading to scepticism from Dr Chris Marsden from the Essex University School of Law.

Marsden was the only speaker at the summit that didn’t represent a regulator, a communications company – such as Cisco, AT&T or Skype, who were all present – or a trade body.

“There are three wise monkeys on net neutrality that are seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil – and I think you might have heard from many of them today,” Marsden said.

“I used to think that there was no net neutrality problem in Europe until at every meeting I went to on the subject I heard people saying there was no problem, which always makes me suspicious.”

Marsden went on to caution industry regulators, such as the UK’s Ofcom, against accepting the word and opinions of industry figures without greater scrutiny.

“It’s one thing saying ‘We have received no formal complaints,’ as Ofcom has, but we need to investigate the issue and that means getting a body of evidence about what’s going on,” he said.

“It is extremely easy to hide discrimination and it’s difficult to tell if something is a natural degradation or something more deliberate, profitable or remunerative and we need to be more open.”

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