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From Net Neutrality to Net Feudality

The original version of this article (in Portuguese) was published by the Brasil Post

The Internet is a quasi-feudal environment. In order to access the Internet you have to accept the contractual provisions unilaterally defined by your telecom operator. In order to use online applications and services, you have to accept the term of service unilaterally defined by the service providers. Besides unilaterally defining the rules that govern their cyberspaces, telecom operators and services providers have also the possibility to inforce them through technical measures.

Nevertheless, Internet users are not (yet) peasants 2.0 because they enjoy some freedom to choose amongst different cyberspaces, contrary to peasants that were bonded to the land. Indeed, Internet users can freely choose the cyberspace they want to live in, using the applications and services they prefer and, theoretically, creating and freely sharing new apps and services. This is the quintessence of the human right to freely seek, impart and receive information and ideas regardless of frontiers. Such freedom is enabled by the net neutrality principle, which mandates non-discriminatory Internet traffic management, so that your telecom operator may not interfere in your freedom to access and share legal content, applications and services. Net neutrality is instrumental to protect Internet users’ freedom of expression allowing them to freely innovate and compete with tech giant on a level playing field. This is why several countries protect net neutrality in their national laws.

Zero Rating: Last Threat to Neutrality or First Step to Feudality?

Zero-rating is the practices of sponsoring access to specific applications and services, whose data consumption will not count against mobile users’ data caps. Zero-rating supporters usually portray this practice as ‘price discrimination’ rather than technical discrimination. However, it is obvious that when the data-cap is reached only zero-rated services may be accessed. As Norwegian Communications Authority’s Frode Sørensen explains “the fact is that once you have used your quota, the traffic that is [zero-rated] will be allowed to continue, while all other traffic will be throttled or blocked. This is clearly a case of discrimination between different types of traffic [and]this is exactly the kind of situation net neutrality aims to avoid.”

continues here http://www.medialaws.eu/from-net-neutrality-to-net-feudality/ ;

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