How to move on towards a Free Internet

[ Written for Simon Says column on Computer World UK ]

Is net neutrality dead ? Let’s face the truth : yes, it is. At least, as we knew it.

In Europe, the repetitive efforts of civil society to get basic principles adopted by the European institutions have sadly led to nothing more than a vague regulation on ‘laying down measures […] to achieve a Connected Continent’ which does ban discrimination against specific content or services… but endorses the possibility for internet providers to have ‘special agreements’ with certain companies to ensure ‘quality traffic’ for their applications. The regulation is currently under examination process at the European Parliament, final adoption being forecast for next Easter – with risks of delays as usual. In the country of human rights, major Telecom operator SFR already proposes to its subscribers special tariffs ensuring an unlimited youtube access.

In the United States, things are getting disastrous. While a rather light legislation imposing minimal net neutrality requirements had been adopted by the US Federal Communications Commission in 2010, a federal appeal court recently invalidated the latter due to an alleged lack of legal grounding. A benediction for American internet providers such as Verizon, who is here winning the case, and AT&T who previously announced the launching of a broadband sponsoring plan targeting actors such as Google and Netflix.

What should we do then ? Bury our heads into the ground and cry our tears there ain’t no freedom anymore and we are all gonna die ? Of course not. Just as usual, simply consider the opportunities here. Okay so Internet services providers can now do decide on privileging certain content. Fair enough. Let’s them do it and rather focus on what we can still do by ourselves without asking for permission.

Launching new businesses for instance. Calling on the open source community for advice and / or participation. Starting our own open internet services companies – we could call it “Open ISPs”, what do you think ? It appears some have thought about it already. Several websites have already popped out with instructions on how to start your ISP business.

So dry your tears then, and get yourself ready to move on towards a new adventure.