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Internet service providers oppose the EU’s traffic tax on technology giants

It was reported that the European Union is considering a plan to make global technology giants, which are large Internet users, pay part of the cost of telecom operators’ broadband networks. But on Tuesday local time, a group representing European internet service providers (ISPs) said publicly that making the tech giants pay would lead to “systemic deficiencies” in broadband network infrastructure. It is reported that this plan has caused a backlash in the telecommunications industry.

For a long time, some European telecommunications operators have put pressure on the European Commission to formulate relevant laws to make American technology giants such as Google, Meta, and Netflix bear certain costs for European telecommunications networks. The reason is that these technology giants occupy The massive bandwidth of broadband networks is the main source of data traffic.

Last September, Thierry Breton, the European Commission’s industrial affairs official, said he planned to hold a consultation with the broadband industry in early 2023 on making the tech giants take on the burden, before submitting formal legislative proposals. Part of the cost of telecommunications networks.

Yesterday, the European Internet Exchange Association stated in an open letter that the EU’s proposed charging model may bring a risk that it will lead to a decline in the quality of broadband services for European Internet users. On the other hand, new systemic defects may be accidentally created. It is reported that this open letter has been submitted to the above-mentioned official Breton and the executive vice president of the European Commission Vestager (a strong woman who is also in charge of market competition affairs).

Bijal Sanghani, general manager of the Internet Exchange Association, stated in an open letter that the Internet is a complex ecosystem, and relevant decision-making bodies must bear responsibility and consequences for the systemic consequences of some policy measures.

Sanhani said some EU lawmakers should not allow administrative rules to override rules for technology services or high-quality Internet service for European consumers.

According to reports, the proposal to let the big customers of Internet companies bear part of the cost has aroused some opposition in Europe. Opponents argue that such fees amount to a “traffic tax” on tech giants, which could lead some social media platforms, including Facebook (which generates a lot of content), to choose to route their services outside the EU, bypassing Europe Internet service provider.

The consequences will have a major impact on Internet consumers in Europe. In order to avoid traffic tax, the content platforms of technology giants may sacrifice the service quality and security quality of European consumers. Alternatively, the tech giants could end up bearing the traffic tax but would pass the cost on to European broadband consumers.

Some opponents also pointed out that the plan to make technology companies bear the cost of the network would damage the EU’s stance on net neutrality. According to the principle of net neutrality, all Internet service providers must remain neutral to all traffic, and must not discriminately limit or limit the service traffic of certain companies.

In June last year, a digital rights advocacy coalition said traffic taxes would undermine or conflict with net neutrality principles in the EU.

The above-mentioned alliance includes 34 non-governmental organizations from 17 countries and regions. The alliance stated in an open letter that European telecommunications companies have obtained financial compensation from Internet consumers. Now, they want to charge traffic fees again from technology companies. This is essentially charging twice for the same service.

The European Commission has yet to comment on the latest backlash from the telecoms industry.

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