In April, the European Parliament adopted draft legislation as part of a move to regulate the European Telecommunications market. This included the formal adoption of Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is a principle which states that internet service providers must treat all traffic equally regardless of source, and cannot charge for the preferential treatment of their subscribers or a particular service.
Whilst Liberal Democrats are hailing Net Neutrality as an EU success story, some Conservative and Labour Party MEPs have expressed opposition. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has also said that he supports a 'two-speed' internet. In a speech in 2010 he suggested that ISPs should be able to experiment with new charges to help pay for the expansion in internet services.
Given these contradictory positions, it is now unclear whether the UK will act to ensure that Net Neutrality is protected or whether it will try to block the protections.
The Pirate Party supports Net Neutrality and is concerned that ignoring Net Neutrality will stifle digital innovation and hinder competition, handing large corporations an unfair advantage and make it impossible for new technology start-ups to be successful.
Pirate Party Leader Loz Kaye said:
"Ed Vaizey's approach and some of the noises coming from Conservative MEPs represent a direct attack on the founding principles of the world wide web - open communication and the spread of knowledge.
I am really proud of the work the Pirate Party movement has done to promote net neutrality, particularly by our Swedish MEPs. This demonstrates why a Pirate voice is vital in politics. This shows why the only vote that truly supports digital rights is a Pirate vote.
Over the next few years we have to decide the direction we want to take the Internet. Do we want to defend and expand unhindered access to the greatest pool of knowledge in humanity's history? Or do we want it to become another medium used to push powerful commercial interests?
We prefer our vision, not Vaizey's."