Home Technology Regulation Greens say net neutrality inquiry needed in Australia

Greens say net neutrality inquiry needed in Australia

The Australian Greens claim that an inquiry into net neutrality is needed to ensure that Australians are guaranteed access to a free and open Internet.

Greens digital rights spokesman Senator Jordon Steele-John (below, right) made the claim on Tuesday after the Opposition joined the Coalition Government to vote against a Greens motion seeking an inquiry into such protections because of public interest.

Senator Steele-John said the ownership structure in the Australian telecommunications industry showed that such an inquiry was warranted.

“The Labor Party has been strong on these issues in the past and we fully expected them to be supportive of our motion today (Tuesday), particularly in light of the recent move to repeal net neutrality protections in the US and the direct and indirect impacts this could have on Australia," he said.

“The Convergence Review, a flagship communications project of the previous Labor Government commissioned in 2011, found that Australia has no dedicated protections and insufficient legislation to ensure networks don’t discriminate against or prioritise specific services, applications or content over the Internet."

greens nbn senator vert“It also noted that the ‘ACCC’s existing powers to address competition issues as they relate to content services in the communications market … are too narrow to address evolving content-specific issues, such as exclusive rights arrangements and bundling, and network neutrality issues that inhibit competition’."

The US Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality in December 2017, making it possible for broadband companies to reshape the online experiences of Americans.

Steele-John said: “There are four major telecommunications providers in Australia – Telstra, Optus, Verizon and AAPT – who own a majority market share, and there are already existing instances of anti-competitive arrangements between these service providers and content providers.

“What we don’t know is the depth of these anti-competitive arrangements and the extent of current implications for consumers.

“The telecommunications industry in Australia is effectively self-regulating; neither the ACCC nor the Australian Communications and Media Authority possess enough power to ensure that Australians continue to have access to a free and open Internet.”

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.