European Union to bar website blocking by Internet service providers

June 12, 2013 at 12:34 PM
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BRUSSELS, June 12 (UPI) -- The European Union will bar Internet service providers from blocking access to certain websites, a European Commission official said.

The official said the proposal would include a ban on blocking and bandwidth throttling, in which a network provider deliberately slows down service on certain websites, EUobserver reported Wednesday.

An estimated 236 million European Internet users have experienced a restricted service online.

"What matters is that people aren't stopped from accessing the content they want and that we maximize network investment so that everything works better because of higher speeds," the unnamed official told EUobserver.

The proposals, part of an overhaul to the European Union's regulation of the digital telecommunication sector, are expected to be published by Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes in July. The European Union is based in Brussels.

Netherlands and Slovenia are the only EU countries that have laws on net neutrality.

Net neutrality advocates argue ISPs and governments should treat data equally, not discriminate against or restrict access to websites and online services.

In a letter, 20 Internet entrepreneurs called on European Union lawmakers to enact "safeguards to curb the tendencies of access operators to act as gatekeepers of the Internet."

They said blocking access to certain websites is "harmful to the fundamental rights of users, to new and existing companies counting on the global reach of the Internet to launch and grow their businesses and to innovation and the economy in general."

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