Net Neutrality is an important resource for e-Government

2 min read

Right now we live in a world where Net Neutrality is a given. This means that you can open any website or webservice just as fast as anyone else on the network, subject only to network congestion or issues of bad reception. The proposition against Net Neutrality would allow your ISP to segment the services and websites you use, giving you faster access to google or any other major player. This would of course mean that you would be paying your ISP for both access to the internet and for faster access to premium websites.

Read Write Web as a pretty good info-graphic explaining in greater detail what Net Neutrality is, and the wikipedia page is also quite useful to understand its implications.

Recently, a leaked document revealed that  France may be ready to put an end to Net Neutrality.

I don’t know a thing about the French legislation, however I do believe that there is a correlation between access to information and development. More so, the European Union encourages its member states to have a wide range of online services.

Under the motto, “better online than in line”, more than 90% of all providers of public services across the European Union are now online. The goal is to provide easy electronic access to 20 basic public services (filing income tax or VAT returns, registering new cars or changing car ownership, and so on).

Source: Europa.eu

To this we had the development of the Citizen Card and the European Commission’s intent to foster e-authentication. All this keeping in mind that there is a need for faster internet access.

Europe needs widely available and competitively-priced fast and ultra fast internet access. The EU aims to bring basic broadband to all Europeans by 2013 and to ensure that, by 2020, (i) all Europeans have access to much higher internet speeds of above 30 Mbps and (ii) 50% or more of European households subscribe to internet access above 100 Mbps.

Source: Europa.eu Press Release

If a European country wishes to follow the guidelines set by the EC and at the same time foster e-Government initiatives, then it must protect Net Neutrality or risk increasing the percentage of citizens with little or no access to information. And given that the trend for more and more e-Government initiatives, the access to information will be akin to the access to the Government.

I fear that if we lose the battle for Net Neutrality we may one day lose any hope of a Participatory Government.

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