Groups to monitor EU telcos restricting online access

Digital civil liberties groups set up platform to track net neutrality violations

Digital civil liberties groups in Europe have launched an online platform asking citizens to "name and shame" telecommunications companies that impose Internet access restrictions.

The aim is to gather information about Internet providers that are "violating ... online freedom" according to advocacy group La Quadrature du Net. Large telecom providers want to "control what you do online," the organization claims. "They want to block and throttle some of your communications, and charge you to use certain online services, content and applications."

These so-called net neutrality violations will be reported to the European Commission and national authorities.

"The online freedom of every European citizen is now under attack by big telecom operators who want to control what you do online," said Ot van Daalen of the Dutch digital rights organization Bits of Freedom. "They want to block or slow down websites and even charge extra for using cheap Internet telephony services. The Netherlands should soon prohibit these unacceptable practices. But this is not enough: every European has a right to an open Internet."

European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes has said she is broadly in favor of a free and open Internet, but no specific legislation has been passed.

"RespectMyNet.eu is an online platform enabling citizens to become the watchmen of the Internet," said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesman for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net. "Everyone is invited to report undue blocking or throttling of their Internet access and help to identify operators who engage in harmful practices."

La Quadrature du Net is supported by French, European and international NGOs including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Society Institute and Privacy International.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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