Don’t let the EU parliament lock up the Internet! It will be no way back! Act now!

Internet access is not conditional

Everyone who owns a website has an interest in defending the free use of Internet… so has everyone who uses Google or Skype… everyone who expresses their opinions freely, does research of any kind, whether for personal health problems or academic study … everyone who shops online… who dates online…socialises online… listens to music…watches video…

We believe in a free Internet – do you?

The Internet as we know it is at risk because of proposed new EU rules going through end of April. Under the proposed new rules, broadband providers will be legally able to limit the number of websites you can look at, and to tell you whether or not you are allowed to use particular services. It will be dressed up as ‘new consumer options’ which people can choose from. People will be offered TV-like packages – with a limited number of options for you to access.

It means that the Internet will be packaged up and your ability to access and to put up content could be severely restricted. It almost certainly means an end to free sharing online. It will create boxes of Internet accessibility, which don’t fit with the way we use it today. This is because Internet is now permiting exchanges between persons that cannot be controled or “facilitate” by any middlemen (the state or a corporation) and this improve the citizen life but force the industry to loose power and control. That’s why they are forcing government to act those changes.

The excuse is to control the flow of music, films and entertainment content against the alleged piracy by downloading for free, using P2P file-sharing. However, the real victims of this plan will be all Internet users and the democratic and independent access to information, culture and goods.

Think about how you use the Internet! What would it mean to you if free access to the Internet was taken away?

These days, the Internet is about life and freedom. It’s about shopping, booking theatre tickets … holidays, learning, job-seeking, banking, and trade. It’s also about the fun things – dating, chatting, invitations, music, entertainment, joking and even a Second Life. It is a tool to express ourselves, to collaborate, innovate, share, stimulate new business ideas, reach new markets – thrive.

It’s the economy – stupid!
Millions of Europeans now depend on the Internet, directly or indirectly, for their livelihood. Taking it away, chopping it up, ‘restricting it’, ‘limiting it’ and placing conditions on our use of it, will have a direct impact on people’s earnings. And in the current financial climate, that can’t be good.

If your business depends on the Internet, you need to act now! Just think – what’s your web address? Unless people have that address in their “package” of regular websites – they won’t be able to find you. That means they can’t buy, or book, or register, or even view you online. Your business won’t be able to find niche suppliers of goods – and compare prices. If you get any money at all from advertising on your site, it will diminish. Yes, Amazon and a select few will be OK, will be the chosen in the package. But your advertising on Google or any other website, will be increasingly worthless. Skype could be blocked. In Germany is already blocked. Small businesses could literally disappear, especially specialist, niche or artisan business.

It is happening because the big media empires are struggling against the Internet – and they are fighting back! They think that if they restrict Internet access, they can turn back the clock to an era of mass entertainment and rich advertising revenues. The world will return to a place of local communities – and not a global connected market, where not only rich multinational have their chance.

If we don’t do something now – we could lose free and open use of the internet. Our freedom (of choice in information, market, culture, pleasure) will be curtailed.

The EU proposals hold an enormous risk for our future. They are about to become Law – and will be virtually impossible to reverse. People (even the members of the European Parliament who are voting on it) don’t really seem to understand the full implications – maybe because it’s very complex to understand – and the legal changes are wrapped up in something called “Telecoms Package” which lulls people into thinking it is just about industry.

However, in reality, hiding from public view, the amendments are about the way the Internet will operate in future! Text that expresses your rights to access and distribute content, services and applications, is being crossed out. And the text that is being brought in, says that broadband providers must inform you of any limitations, or restrictions to your broadband service. Alternative versions use the word ‘conditions’ – and it is seriously being proposed that you will be told the conditions of use of Internet services. This is made to sound good – it is dressed up as ‘transparency’ – except that of course it means that the broadband provider will have the legal right to restrict your access or impose conditions, otherwise why would they need tell you? If the Telecoms Package amendments are voted in, the changes will not be reversible.

We all have a stake in the Internet! You need to act now to save it!