According to BuzzFeed, the UK said that it wouldn’t support the bill unless it allowed the authorities to block illegal material. “We do not support any proposals that mean we cannot enforce our laws, including blocking child abuse images,” a spokesperson said.
The legislation in question would impose the net neutrality principle throughout the European Union. This means that all Internet traffic needs to be treated equally by Internet service providers. If approved by all countries, it would ban the Internet providers from signing deals with content companies such as YouTube or Netflix to facilitate their access to a so-called “Internet fast lane,” as it has happened in the United States.
The British government, however, has its own agenda that it has been trying to push for a long time, especially when it comes to the role search engines should have in the fight against footage of child abuse.
While this may be the official statement coming from the UK, BuzzFeed points out that back in 2010, the country’s Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said that he actually supported a two-speed Internet – exactly the opposite of net neutrality. He believed that this would enable networks to run smoothly.
“We have got to continue to encourage the market to innovate and experiment with different business models and ways of providing consumers with what they want,” he said at the time, completely missing out just what this would mean for consumers, namely increased subscription prices.
However, the current opposition of the British authorities does seem to be related to the power it has over sites with illegal content. That’s because the original net neutrality bill running in the European Union actually allowed governments to restrict access to sites that broke local laws or were involved in criminal activities.
The provisions were removed at the last minute. Now, governments have to actually get a court order before they restrict Internet traffic, which seems to be too tiresome for the British government.
“Let me clear that we will not agree to any proposals that restrict the ability of parents to protect their children from inappropriate content online,” Vaizey said.
The British are, of course, famous for the fact that they’ve made access to adult material and other types of content an opt-in feature for consumers who have to tell their ISPs if they want to be able to access such things. The easier and cheaper solution would have been, of course, teaching parents how to use Internet monitoring tools that could impose the same access restrictions, and more, directly on each personal computer.