Net neutrality as a principle not only implies that all internet traffic should be treated equally, also it is the human right to the full resources on the internet, free flow of the information easily accessible to all individuals and companies, and the unfettered innovation.
Last October, the EU parliament voted new net neutrality rules to preserve that principle in law, however, these regulations are threatened by a number of gaps. In order to keep Europe innovative, it is crucial that MEPs adopt amendments for stronger net neutrality.
The general public response is the one of disappointment, and the following points are of immediate concern to us, points that MEPs should insist on:
- “Specialised services” allows the creation of internet fast lanes for companies that pay to have their content load faster. MEPs should insist on the amendments that close ‘specialized services’— as now they interfere with the concept of “open internet”.
- The current amendments allow “zero-rating” of the services; this means that ISPs and telecom operators are offering a specific service or bundle of services for free. We should be cautious about “zero rating” projects that offer “free” internet. The recent example is Facebook’s Free Basics service (formerly known as Internet.org) that offers free internet access to the developing world aiming to bridge the digital divide. Let’s call things their name, this nothing has to do with “charity”, this business strategy runs against the idea of net neutrality.
- ISPs are allowed to define the traffic management, classes of services, and speed of the traffic. What EU regulation is essentially saying here is that all internet data is equal, but some are more equal than others? The net neutrality doesn’t support this kind of discrimination.
As individuals, we are experiencing the growing number of threats to the very existence of the internet, such as censorship, surveillance and concentrations of power. Back in 2012, I was one of the presenters at the World Wide Web (WWW) conference in Lyon, France, where the founder of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee in his inspiring keynote made a plea for a free and open internet. He expressed his concerns regarding the collection and use of personal data and touched the most pressing issues of open data, open government, privacy and control, and net neutrality. For TBL, the threat comes mainly from industry, and users of the internet must act and not hesitate to claim their personal data from Google or Facebook for example.
Obviously, we all need to reflect individually on these present critical issues in our society and embrace collectively actions that will foster the growth, stability, and healthy, open and neutral ecosystem of the internet. Since democracy depends on the open internet – so the human discourse depends on the open internet as well, with the massive engagement where everyone gets involved.
BEREC, the European telecoms regulator group has the challenge to create a single set of guidelines which meet the regulation’s above points, and they are due at the end August.
You can join the global campaign for the net neutrality and undertake an action by making a statement and share it via social media channels or take community actions (attend or organise an event in your area, join the net neutrality debate).
The internet belongs to all of us as a human right, after all, the digital rights are human rights.
A quick update: We just announced the second call for late-breaking work and position papers at #Microposts2016 (Making Sense of Microposts) at the World Wide Web conference on 11 April 2016, Toronto, Canada. Beside the Main track and SocSci track, this workshop is a lot about promoting inter-field/domain discussion. We’d love to see Semantic Web and Computational Social researchers out with late-breaking work or work-in-progress. Submission deadline is 18 March 2016. More details here.
Few days ago it was my birthday and somehow I felt inspired to give back and donate to those charities that personally resonate with me or someone that has an important role in my life. This year, these are the organisations I contributed 15 % of my income and I encourage you to do the same if you want and if you can.
Red Cross of Serbia. I contributed to the program for children help and the program of social inclusion. It is obvious and especially in Serbian society children with special needs or without the home and family need your support. You may not be able to give blood, for example, however, you can entail volunteering time with a charity or donate. Here you can make a donation (see instructions for dinars, EUR, and USD).
Wikimedia Foundation. Investing in knowledge is the best thing you can do for yourself and others. Wikimedia Foundation is behind Wikipedia – the first online, collaborative, transparent, user-generated, information and knowledge oriented project on the Internet, important for the future of education and that helps (whether you are aware of it or not) to developing your digital literacy skills on the web. See the donation page.
International Child Art Foundation (ICAF). You probably noticed my previous post on ICAF, and soon to be published an article on music and children development. ICAF serves children worldwide, an organisation that employs the arts to build bonds of understanding and creativity and empathy among children around the world. Check out the ways you can support ICAF – here.
Alzheimer Europe. This NGO aims at raising awareness of all forms of dementia by creating a common European platform through co-ordination and co-operation between Alzheimer organisations throughout Europe. This is important to me because in my country awareness about dementia is non-existent and this is the area that needs research and development. I believe that you know someone who is diagnosed with dementia, however, this is also the social stigma in many societies. You can help Alzheimer Europe by purchasing some of their publications – here.
My first real experience of intense grief of losing someone you love in the family happened in 2003 when my Nana, maternal grandmother died from cancer. She was a primary school teacher in pension, she was the one who taught me to read and write. She was very warm, caring, beautiful and joyous woman. Back then, in Serbia, the awareness about cervical cancer literally didn’t exist. We didn’t even know that she was suffering from cervical cancer until it was too late. If my Nana had gone for a cervical smear earlier, she may still be here.
European Cervical Cancer Association (ECCA) says that we could prevent almost every case of cervical cancer, and organised cervical cancer screening programmes can prevent up to 80% of cervical cancers. What we can do is to raise awareness about programmes on:
- Cervical screening. Have a regular cervical screening, it offers protection against developing cervical cancer. Have your smear tests. After the age of 30, you should go to your ob/gyn twice per year for smear tests.
- HPV vaccination programmes. HPV is a very common virus. Up to 80% of people will be infected with an HPV infection at some time during their lives. Also, have in mind that HPV vaccines are not a substitute for cervical screening.
In Serbia, cervical cancer is the second leading cause of death of women. Even where screening at local health offices and programmes are available, many women have not been made aware of their importance so they do not use them. The message is simple: have your smear tests, have the vaccine, spread the word and remind your female friends and women that are important in your life. We should get rid of the stigma and talk about this before it’s too late. For more information about The Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, check the materials in different languages.
Image source: http://www.ecca.info/