France Proposes New Rules for Internet Equal Access
The French government on Tuesday called for a law requiring Internet service providers to give all the traffic on their networks equal priority, saying existing rules were insufficient for protecting free speech online and ensuring fair competition among Web publishers.
The proposal would mark a big shift in French policy and a break with existing European Union practice on the thorny issue of so-called net neutrality. And though almost certain to meet resistance from some Internet service providers, it could fuel calls for similar rules throughout the 27-country European Union.
The issue came to a head in France in January, when one service provider, Free, temporarily blocked users from seeing advertising sold by Google until the government ordered Free to restore access.
The proposal, by a French government advisory panel and endorsed by the minister overseeing digital commerce, pits companies that build and operate telecommunications systems against Internet players that rely on the networks to deliver their content to consumers. The French proposal would still need to be drafted as legislation and taken up by Parliament.
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