The long arm of the lobby

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

17 July 2012

Internet operators are still fighting the decision made by the Spanish Senate in 2012, which urged the government to guarantee internet neutrality by law. They have even set up a committee to defend their interests. 

A biased and manipulative report headed Agenda Digital para España (Digital Agenda for Spain), drafted by a “high-level group of experts”, claims that the best thing for Spain would be for internet neutrality to disappear and for operators to be able to agree that some bits circulate faster than others depending on their origin.

It is the umpteenth move by the operators’ lobby in their attempt to twist the government’s arm   in favor of its own interests. In December of 2010, the Spanish Senate unanimously urged the government to protect the principal of Internet neutrality by law. Said movement took the lobby by surprise. In the midst of extensive public support for Internet neutrality, they were barely able to manipulate a few senators.

Now, a committee whose members are overwhelmingly in favor of the operators’ interests is trying to overturn this unanimous resolution of the Senate. And the question is this: how far does the long arm of the operators’ lobby reach? It is ironic. The same party that not so long ago wanted to protect Internet neutrality appear to want to bury it  now that they are in power.

Internet neutrality is not being negotiated in a committee of supposed experts. Neutrality is a basic principle that cannot be violated. A bit is a bit, and it will circulate at the same speed wherever it is from, without discrimination. The operator that provides the means for this bit to reach you cannot enter into negotiations to try to make this bit to circulate faster merely because it comes from someone who is paying said operator more, or more slowly when it comes from someone who doesn’t. You, or a hospital, can contract different speeds of broadband access, of course, but the operator cannot discriminate what circulates around it depending on its interests.

Either that, or it is not internet we are talking about.
 

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