[Arstechnica] EU net neutrality vote would let ISPs charge for Internet

A European telecom law approved by a committee today is intended to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing down Web applications, but lets ISPs charge content providers for higher quality of service. Critics say this allowance will create an Internet "fast lane" and undermine the principles of net neutrality, that Internet service providers should treat all traffic equally. […]

Non-government organizations that oppose the legislation set up a website titled, Save the Internet. "Right now big companies like Microsoft and Facebook are on the same level as our Blogs or Podcasts," the site says. "But if the definition of 'specialized services' isn't fixed, these companies will be in the fast lane on the data highway, leaving start-ups and non-commercial websites like Wikipedia in the slow lane."

Save the Internet claimed that the regulation will let ISPs "block content without any judicial oversight." The committee's announcement disputes that, but a Save The Internet spokesperson argued that "Although the proposal explicitly prohibits blocking and throttling, it authorizes new forms of discrimination that would have the same effect, by allowing exclusive and restrictive commercial deals between Internet access providers and service provider." […]