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A Discourse-Principle Approach to Network Neutrality: A Model Framework and its Application
By Luca Belli and Matthijs van Bergen
[This article will be included in the Report of the Dynamic Coalition on Network Neutrality that will be released and discussed at the
United Nations Internet Governance Forum, on 25 October]
The protection of network neutrality (“NN”) is a crucial challenge for current information societies.
The enshrinement of this all-important principle into policy and legislation appears necessary to
foster an open Internet where users are active participants and not mere consumers. Indeed, NN
empowers Internet users allowing them not only to freely receive and impart information but also to
freely receive and impart innovation. By contrast, in a non-neutral Internet, the power to decide
which kind of innovation and information should be accessed and distributed by end-users, would
primarily lie with Internet service providers. Such centralised control over Internet traffic flows has
the potential to determine nefarious consequences on media pluralism as well as on the circulation
of innovation. Therefore, the extent to which the NN principle is safeguarded and implemented has a
direct impact on the full enjoyment on human rights online and, therefore, also on the level of
accomplishment of democracy and self-determination in the various information societies.
One of the main purposes of the Dynamic Coalition on Network Neutrality (DC NN) was to elaborate
a model legal framework on network neutrality that would enable innovation and be consistent with
international human-rights standards, while also being ‘scalable’, which in this context means being
easily implemented and applied across different legal systems. To come to such a “Model
Framework”, the DC NN has adopted a process, grounded on openness, inclusion, transparency and
participation. This article will first briefly describe the Habermassian process that the DC NN has tried
to put in place and will subsequently highlight the result of such process and its concrete application,
whose only aim is to protect NN in an efficient fashion.
[This article as well as the Model Framework on Network Neutrality may be consulted at http://networkneutrality.info/sources.html ]