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Europe to Vote on Less Strict Net Neutrality Rules...a Week After U.S. Approves Stricter Guidelines
(Photo: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Europe to Vote on Less Strict Net Neutrality Rules...a Week After U.S. Approves Stricter Guidelines

The European Union is set to weigh in.

As the Federal Communications Commission begins to implement strict new Internet rules in the U.S., Europe appears to be taking steps at making its online rules more lenient.

On Wednesday, ambassadors and representatives of the European Union will vote on a preliminary net neutrality measure that would allow Internet service providers across the pond to deliver speedier access to companies that are willing to pay more, the Wall Street Journal reported.

government surveillance Telecom network cables are pictured in Paris, on June 30, 2013. The European Union angrily demanded answers from the United States over allegations Washington had bugged its offices, the latest spying claim attributed to fugitive leaker Edward Snowden. German weekly Der Spiegel said its report, which detailed covert surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) on EU diplomatic missions, was based on confidential documents, some of which it had been able to consult via Snowden. (Photo: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Google, for example, could pay Internet service providers more money if it wants videos on YouTube, a website that it owns, to load faster for consumers. Similarly, Netflix could pay providers to have its content delivered quicker.

If the vote passes, the proposal will then go to the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Union Council. Those three bodies would debate the issue over the coming weeks and if they can reach an agreement, the proposal would then become law.

While what it's considering would open up more potential opportunities between service providers and content providers, one key restriction would still ensure that none of the deals agreed to by service service providers and content providers "impairs" Internet access for the majority of users.

The proposal is slated for a preliminary vote less than one week after the FCC approved the "strongest Internet rules ever proposed" in a straight party-line vote, with three Democrats voting for the measure and two Republicans voting against it. If the EU passes the proposal it would make net neutrality rules in Europe less strict than those in the United States.

Net neutrality measures in the U.S. ban Internet service providers from blocking, throttling or prioritizing certain Internet content. Democrats say this will create a more open Internet for all Americans, but Republicans argue the decision is one that Congress should debate, not something mandated by the FCC. Republicans also believe inserting government oversight will have adverse effects.

Some Republicans, however, support many of the same proposals the FCC approved. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has drafted legislation containing many of the same ideas, but has not formally introduced it. Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Fred Upton (R-MI) have voiced their support of Thune's draft proposal.

As for the Internet in Europe, EU digital chief Günther Oettinger said he expects that new laws will be passed by this summer. Doing so, Oettinger said, will ensure that net neutrality laws are the same throughout the 28 European Union member states.

(H/T: Wall Street Journal)

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