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EU calls for net neutrality agreement

Region needs a free and open net

While many European countries are talking about web censorship and filtering, it seems that the EU is going the otherway.

Neelie Kroes, the EU's commissioner for digital policy said that Europe needs a definitive net neutrality plan that will guarantee people's right to a free and open Internet. Kroes said that "openness and liberty are values I am determined to defend everywhere."

The basic idea behind net neutrality is that everyone should have equal access to the web. Amazon should not be able to pay to have its website load faster than a family-made e-commerce site, for example, and an ISP should not block or throttle one particular app, like BitTorrent. Kroes is fast becoming the techies' politician. Last week she made a push to end to mobile roaming charges.

She said that the EU should abide by four principles: innovation, transparency, choice, and competition. When purchasing Internet service, however, customers should know exactly what they're getting. Details about speed and included services are often "hidden away in long and complex contracts," Kroes said. "That's not good enough. We deserve a clear promise before we sign up."

In addition, customers should have a choice of ISP, and be able to easily switch from one to the other "without countless obstruction," Kroes said. "There are many barriers to switching: like excessive charges, modem hire, or email addresses. We will be looking at those barriers, and removing them."

Meanwhile, ISPs should not be able to block competing services like VoIP offerings from Skype or Whatsapp, which "offer real innovation for consumers," Kroes said.

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