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Günther Oettinger: Internet is for everybody, to almost all

European Union digital commissioner Günther Oettinger  is trying to provide equal Internet access to everybody – with a few exceptions. 

Günther Oettinger, 61, was appointed European Union commissioner for digital economy and society in 2014. Before that, he was minister of the German state Baden-Württemberg from 2005 to 2010 and then became European commissioner for energy for five years. Mr. Oettinger is a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats. He confessed to German business news magazine WirtschaftsWoche that he’s not a digital native.

HGE: Are we heading toward a two-class system when it comes to the Internet, where in the future, only big clients get good service?

GO: We’re focusing on net neutrality right now. That means equal treatment for everyone; data will be handled the same way for everybody. We won’t allow for discrimination of content. We hope to reach an agreement midyear. At that point, Europe will have reached legal certainty, something the United Stated is not going to achieve that early.

HGE: The United States has come to the decision that all users of the Internet are equal. But that decision remains very sketchy in some areas.

GO: I think the decision U.S. President Barak Obama took regarding net neutrality is good marketing. The 300-page long set of rules regarding open Internet is difficult to understand. Whenever I ask the head of the Federal Communications Commission about areas such as e-health, he answers that those areas are not affected. The Americans are creating general rules, but there are certain things they don’t want to regulate.

HGE: Is Europe going to do a better job?

GO: In Europe there won’t be preferential treatment on the Internet. That’s the key point. Companies or private individuals that are generating less revenue for the Internet provider are not allowed to get poorer service, such as lower transmission volume. There has to be a consistent quality standard for everybody. In addition, there have to be special services that serve people’s interest — those will have some additional advantages.

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Source: Handelsblatt Global Edition

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