EU parliament set to vote on net neutrality rules

The European parliament will take a key vote on Tuesday on rules affecting how internet traffic is managed.

MEPs are considering a new set of rules for telecoms companies inside the EU.

The plan could have major implications for net neutrality, where traffic is not slowed down or priced differently because of its content or origin.

Some people fear the plan may lead to such restrictions but others argue that first it would have to be turned into specific regulations.

Some tech companies, campaign groups and the inventor of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee have all called for the adoption of amendments to the rules, which they believe would better safeguard the principles of net neutrality.

However, this would mean rejecting the plan in a form to which EU governments have already agreed.

Another part of the legislation, which would abolish mobile roaming charges within the EU, is popular with MEPs, so enthusiasm for rejecting it in its current form and further delaying this move is low, according to some analysts.

What is net neutrality?

The idea that data should be ferried from place to place as quickly as possible, regardless of what it is, is how most people assume the internet works.

That’s the essence of net neutrality.

However, it’s possible to decide to prioritise certain types of data over others – perhaps, for example, by charging the producers of such data a fee to make sure their content gets delivered promptly.

For big video streaming sites, the prospect is worrying. They could find themselves coughing up lots of money in fees simply to give their users the same experience as before.

Some argue, however, that such fees are fair since it costs internet service providers a lot of money to keep providing such content, no matter how popular the streaming sites become.