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Net Neutrality, Spain and Wikileaks

Categories: Spain, Advocacy, Law, Regulation

Net neutrality. Jan/20minutos.es. By Flickr David Fraíz (daklein) license CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Previously, we’ve touched on the the topic of net neutrality [2], especially neutrality in Spain. [3] Since last September, when Telefonica proposed to Spain’s Telecommunications Market Comission, to eliminate their flat fee and establish 3 tiers of service varying from quality and user’s data usage, things have been moving along.

Around the middle of November, the proposition reached the Spanish senate, “a motion in which the government is asked to modify the Spanish rule by Information Society” as it was reported [4] by El Pais. The objective was to guarantee the keeping of the principle of net neutrality [5] by the telecommunication providers that operate in Spain. However, the decision was [6] against it, including the activity of the known blogger Enrique Dans and other activists explaining and defending the principle of net neutrality, was objected and qualified as degrading in a sequence of events that Dans describes in this post [7].

After this, another motion was presented but it was sent to the legislation to the European community, something Dans had already said it was a delaying tactic [8]. In the context of the debates and negotiations of this motion is what appears a Manifiesto [9] for a neutral net on the website Red Neutral [10] and several other blogs. In addition to several other posts demonstrating what net neutrality means, such as Alnair: The neutrality of the roads [11] in GurusBlog or in Jesus Encinar from the site Idealista.com that declared [12]:

A muchos les gustaría tener controlado monopolísticamente internet en móviles y televisión y están haciendo todo lo que está en su mano para cambiar el marco regulatorio. La Red Neutral está siendo atacada en EE.UU. por las empresas que primero se beneficiaron de ella, desde Google a Apple pasando por Facebook. En España Telefónica está intentando crear un marco regulatorio favorable que le permita cobrar por todo lo que circula por la red.

Many would like to monopolize the internet on cells and television and are doing everything in their power to change the regulatory framework. The Neutral Net is being attacked in the very US by companies that first benefited from it, from Google to Apple and even Facebook. In Spain Telefonica is trying to create a favorable regulatory foundation that would allow it to charge for everything that circulates on the internet.

While Mariano Amartino from Denken Uber said that without a neutral net [13]wikileaks would not exist; Eduardo Arcos in Alt1040 wrote about three things we would lose [14] if the neutral net disappeared.

-We would lose the ability to access any site of our choosing.
-We would lose the freedom to start a new project and succeed.
-We would lose the freedom of information

Bloggers were not the only ones pushing the topic, there were entrepreneurs, via the Spanish Associatino of Digital Economy (adigital), that represents 500 companies, who addressed [15] the parliament asking for an agreement so that “ Spanish legislation guarantees an open and impartial use of the internet by every user, independent of their goals.” Finally on December 1st, the Spanish senate approved [16] this motion. But for E. Dans, this was not “an ending, but a beginning. [17]

With help from active citizens on the web, we have counterbalanced the original position [18] expressed by the Government in the document on net neutrality issued to the European Commission, stopping the lobbying attempts of some operators on parliament, the parties, the ministry and several other groups, and we have achieved a unanimous decision from the Chamber that will make it very difficult that voting could be reversed in Congress, by an obvious issue of meaning.

Despite all this, the feeling of satisfaction was soon dampened when by the wikileaks’ publication of some cables revealed the pressure the US was applying to powerful people in Spain, such as ministers, secretaries of state, operators such as Telefonica and others in order to approve the Sinde law and the plan to secure a law [19] against downloads in Spain. Marilyn Gonzalo describes it [20] in ALT1040:

Exactly a year ago, in opposition to the Sinde Law, the manifest in defense of the fundamental rights on the Internet was being reviewed… this caused the Ministry of Culture to a group of cybernauts, the very president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero would have to declare that nothing would be closed on the web… despite this, the Sinde Law continued and a year after, it continues to work its way in the parliament. We asked ourselves why the Minister and the politicians in general did not listen to us, or if the artists’ lobbyists had so much power so that the government would ignore so many voices that people that had signed the manifest and now we know where the pressure was coming from.

A year after, we have been assisting the effort to redefine the concept of net neutrality on the part of interested groups in which no longer exist (situation for which the manifest for a neutral web was written, while the final Disposition second of discord (Sinde Law) waits in congress the partial amendments of parliamentary groups. A senate labels a citizen who expresses his opinion (shared by many others) as degrading external factor while his government allows itself to be influenced by foreign powers to pass a law. And here we thought that these things only took place in underdeveloped and corrupt nations. Today, Spain, you’re embarrassing me.

Hace justamente un año, y como oposición a la Ley Sinde, se gestaba el Manifiesto en defensa de los derechos fundamentales en Internet [21] … que ocasionó que tras convocar la Ministra de Cultura a un grupo de internautas, el mismo presidente José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero tuviera que salir a declarar que no se iba a cerrar nada en la Red … A pesar de eso, la Ley Sinde siguió, y un año después sigue su tramitación en el parlamento. Nos preguntábamos por qué la Ministra y los políticos en general no nos escuchaban, si el lobby de los artistas tenía tanto poder como para que el gobierno desoyera tantas voces que habían firmado el manifiesto y ahora sabemos de dónde venían las presiones.Un año después, venimos asistiendo a los esfuerzos por redefinir el concepto de la neutralidad de la red [22] por parte de grupos interesados en que ya no exista (situación ante la que se ha escrito también un Manifiesto por una Red Neutral [23], mientras la Disposición final Segunda de la discordia (la Ley Sinde) espera en el Congreso a las enmiendas parciales de los grupos parlamentarios. Un Senado califica de “factor externo degradante” [24] a un ciudadano que manifiesta su opinión (compartida por muchos otros) mientras su gobierno acepta presiones de un país extranjero para aprobar una ley. Y pensábamos que estas cosas ocurrían en países subdesarrollados y corruptos. Hoy, España, te me caes de vergüenza.

Since the number of Spanish cables published by Wikileaks is still a small fraction of the total, we expect more revelations about it. In the meantime, bloggers and Hispanic activists have decided to not let down their guard. To finish, I leave you with the video “Do bits dream of neutral webs? By Simón Hergueta [25]

The image [26] at the beginning of this post is that of user David Fraíz [27] in Flickr.

This post is a light adaptation for GV from the original [28] published in Globalizado.

Video in Spanish [29]