Cooperation Working Group
19 May 2022
(Panel discussion on network neutrality)
CHAIR: Welcome everybody to the Cooperation Working Group session. A pretty packed session, I have to say.
So, I'm actually not going to bother with the usual administrative trivia because we have an e‑mail list for that. I do encourage you all to use the e‑mail list, it's surprisingly quiet there considering everything that's going on.
We have a challenging situation with the hybrid meetings where we have some panelists virtual, some panelists are physical, some presenters here and some not, and the same thing with us Chairs, we have Desiree fortunately here after some challenges, we have me here and we have Akillis online, so we balanced that too.
We have two main topics for this session, and the first one is about network neutrality, and it's going to be a heated subject, so the best way to deal with that we thought was a panel, so we have some panelists to discuss that.
And then we have a very last minute presentation on a topic that popped up on or radar suddenly, and when we saw it we went oh! Which is the European Commission child protection. Yes we all know what that means.
So let me get things started and start with our panel discussion, and Desiree will moderate the panel for us and do you want to introduce the speakers. The stage is yours.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you, it's good to see everyone in person, and online.
Let's start with the panel. Thank you for introducing it. My name is Desiree Miloshevic, I am one the co‑chairs and we have Akillis also online with us who can not be here in person. As you have been saying we have a panel on net neutrality so I would kindly ask all the panelists who are here in the room in person with us to take their chair here and come up to the floor. And we also have two panelists online who will be joining us.
What we tried to do is really have a diverse view on this burning topic on network imbalances, maybe, and we'll hear more from the esteemed panelists. As they are doing introductions I will just briefly say who we have here in case you didn't read our mailing list.
So we have with us today Maart Palovirta and she is a senior director at ETNO, we will also have two online panelists, Frode Sorensen and Klaus Nieminen who have been been working at the open Internet Working Group Chairs of the regulatory agency as you know for electronic communications. And also here with us, we have Alex de Joode. We have Thomas Lohninger who is speaking to us about the civil society on this topic and we have Fredy Kunzler from INET 7. So with that, without further ado, I would like to give the floor to Maart to see whether she'd like to start first with other opening statement.
MAART PALOVIRTA: Thank you for the introduction and the invitation to this event. I am very aware that this is of course a technical event at large and the topic that we're discussing today is a policy topic and even worse, a political topic, which probably will cause some controversy, and I think that's welcome. And in fact the reason why I'm also here is because we from the telco side, we wanted to have an open discussion on this because there is some bad history, there are all kind of pre‑conceptions so we would like to have this discussion this time round openly and also to make sure that it's fact based from all sides.
So I think the title of this event says is all "a call for large content platform to say contribute to the cost of European digital infrastructures that carries their services" that's the session title today and just to give a bit of background from Brussels, I am presenting the large operators, 33 of the largest operators in Europe. The former incumbents, if you like.
And the discussion started last year. There was some calls from operators along this topic and the European Commission picked it up last year in a document that's called "the European digital principles" document. And in that they recognised that there should be some record frameworks to provide for contribution, an a fair contribution to the infrastructure, digital infrastructures in Europe. And this was, of course, from our point of view, the first time that something has been recognised in writing and they then commissioned a report on this topic, there is a couple of copy in the front, because we wanted to really have a, let's say, an explanation on what is the problem from our side, where is the issue, what is the challenge for telecom operators. Also look at the bigger picture: What are the socioeconomic impacts on this current situation, on the European citizen, on the green impact which is relevant today. And then likely some policy solutions.
So, the report was launched a couple of weeks ago and we have had a huge reaction to this. From the highest political level to the grass root level from all sides. What is the report about then? So, as I said, we wanted to contribute to this discussion that the European Commission, in a way, opened, and it's really then to try and highlight on where are we today? So, if I just give you some numbers, so the European telcos have invested some 500 billion euros on infrastructure in the last ten years. That's a lot of money. And, you know, that's also a lot of progress I think for the European connectivity. In the same time, data traffic volumes have also increased exponentially, and according to this study, 55% of the current data volumes actually come from six players. You know, that belong to the so‑called big tech or OTT, whatever you want to call these companies, and that then is challenging for operators from mainly two perspectives:
So, there is a cost to delivering this traffic to operators. And there seems to be, at the IP markets level, an imbalance in the negotiation power at the purely commercial level of trying to come to an agreement of which terms and so forth, operators can, or should deliver this traffic. Of course we all know that in the European Union we have the net neutrality rules where by operators are obliged to deliver all traffic to end users in Europe. So there is absolutely no way of saying oh, we can't do that. So, that's a kind of a red line, if you like.
The other thing asymmetry in regulatory obligations, as I already said open Internet rules, they weren't here in 2012, they have come along since. These are rules that are not, for example, in place any more in the US. We have consumer price regulations still indirectly and directly in place in wholesale markets, partially also consumer markets and finally we have a competition policy framework in Europe which pretty much makes it very difficult for the telco sector to consolidate, leading to a situation where we now in Europe have about 10 operators in a market that is in some places not very populated.
So that's the big picture, the problem, if you like. And then going to the solution perhaps, so what are we looking at?
At this stage, we are really wanting to understand better the imbalances in the IP traffic markets, and that seems to be the cornerstone of the discussion also from our members' perspective. What is also clear and we wanted to put it up from there, in our report, in this report, that anything that we do should be done by respecting the open Internet rules that we have in place, and this may sound a bit light coming from the operators, but in fact in the past few years that the regulation has been in place, this has become a kind of factor of stability for our members so now that the practices have been established, and in fact there are very few, let's say, violations to the rules these days in Europe, so they are very well respected, so, you know, that wouldn't be the instinct to go that way and try and change the regulatory scene that way.
So, the only, then, solution is to, as I said already, is to try and address the seat unbalance in power, in market power, in the IP markets, and to see a little bit if there should be some kind of a fair contribution to the network deployment by those companies who are general railing most of this traffic.
So maybe I'll just leave it there. Just to say that as I said, so, you know, it is a divisive issue and we are here to have an open discussion so I welcome questions and comments from the audience.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you so much. I am sure that we will get a lot of questions for you and responses. I would maybe ask Alex, since you are sitting next, to give your perspective from AMS‑IX and from operators point of view.
ALEX DE JOODE: Thank you. I have been working in the Brussels arena for the last I think ten years. And when I started, this also was a discussion. So, basically, we're redoing the discussion that happened ten years. I think in one of the coming presentations, there will be an outlay of what the history was, it's sufficient for me to say that in the end, Commissioner Koos says that the reason people pay for Internet connectivity is these big platforms. So they provide the service where the telcos basically can sell the Internet connectivity for.
One the questions you then of course have is: Why are they redoing this discussion now? If you remember, there was a discussion a couple of years ago about Google and Facebook publishing news articles. The publishers wanted to have a slice of money from that. They lobbied in Brussels and successfully and Google and Facebook now have to pay publishers for news snippets. I think you have to see this ETNO action in the same light for Brussels, a big American technology companies are bad, European companies are okay, so if you want to get some extra money, as a European entity, it's very easy to stir the entire American sentiment in the Brussels policy arena. And I think that's what ETNO is doing.
One of the tenants I think of the Internet we have now is that everybody pays it's on cost. So you have a network, no, you pay for your cost. All right, you have to pay extra if you want to connect to the eyeballs, you can get very cheap transit for 10, 6, whatever cents for end bit. If you want to reach one the bigger telcos, you have to pay, 40, 50 cents which already is four or five times what you pay for normal Internet. They already have toll gates available. They are not on the main IXPs any more, because then you have to exchange traffic for free. You can't use your toll gate. So in effect, they are having their customers pay for the Internet connectivity. They upgrade it every once in a while so you pay a huge amount relatively for the usage, and now they are saying, ah, people are making use of a lot of these American platforms, apparently they generate 60% of our traffic, so let's see if we can get some extra money.
I don't think that's the right way to do business, but we can have the discussion later on.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you for sharing your views with, Alex. I think before going online, I would just ask Thomas to maybe react to this business perspective. He, as a user, has a point of view of how would this possible change affect Internet users.
THOMAS LOHNINGER: Thank you Desiree and thank you for the invitation. I am very, very happy to be here at RIPE and also here in a room with you all.
It was mentioned before, this idea that we're discussing today is actually very old. It is as old as the termination fees that we know there are basically what ETNO is proposing, and this idea that keeping a customer reachable and therefore deserving money from whoever wants to communicate with them is the core of this idea.
It was called calling parking network pace and this time around it is called sending party pace or sending party network pays and it was discussed at length ten years ago at the ETU level and rejected almost unanimously. There was an idea for it to be unworkable, the party of telecom regulators in Europe rejected it outright since commission studies on inter‑connection several of them, they all came to the same conclusions and those guys have access to the full picture of the market because they are regulators, they are allowed to look deep into things.
I'm not even mentioning the case by case assessment that we have seen in France and Germany and all of these independent actors came to the conclusion that no, there actually is no problem.
And the whole basis under which this proposal comes to us, is based on a flawed understanding of how the Internet works. If you go to the statements of Commissioner Vesna and Commissioner Betane they are talking about the traffic being produced in the network by these big tele companies from the US so they just don't understand that this traffic is requested by paying customers and this is, thankfully, how the Internet works, and you can assess here also that we are talking about a fundamental shift. We have seen only one country in the world where this has succeeded, it's South Korea they have a send in party pay system and the consequences there, I would invite to you scrutinise them. If Europe were to follow this model, that would be it for the global inter‑connection market bugs the subsidiaries into market power and the global stand‑up function that Europe has would lead to global change in the way we connect the Internet together.
And ETNO talks in its study about an application for ODTs to negotiate direct agreements with the telecom companies. One has to ask: What else? Like, when I have to negotiate an agreement, what happens if I don't reach an agreement, because these right now are secret business deals, most of them are not even open. So what happens with the transit? What happens with all the other connections that are not part of this paid peering agreement? And I come back here to the declaration that ETNO is basing its lobby attack on the declaration about the actual decade. It also says we commit to protecting net neutrality and the open Internet, and content services and applications should not unjustifiablely be blocked or degraded.
And again, coming from someone that has been working for, for over a decade, it's great to hear the telecom industry talking about stability in the market. We have been fighting against zero rating for many many years, and it was just last year that the European High Court sided with us and said no zero rating is illegal and now in all but two European countries we have to scrap the zero rating products because they are everywhere. And we have conducted a study in 2019, and looked at the applications that are zero rated. From the top 20, only four are from Europe. All the others are Americans. So, the telecom industry cannot via zero rating incentivise the traffic from the big American corporations and basically they have given it for free. It was not even deducted from the monthly data cap and at the same time say oh but you are flooding our networks and now we want money for it.
There is a net neutrality law in Europe, thankfully. The telecoms single market regulation has a clear obligation. The telecom companies have to connect to all end points of the Internet, that they have to treat all traffic equally, technically and commercially and they are not allowed to change the price of the products based on the applications that are used. For me it is clear if ETNO want to succeed from this they have to scrap net neutrality from the books. We have to open telecom single market. We have to basically ‑‑ there is only one historical example from the Donald Trump administration, completely destroy net neutrality protections in Europe for the ETNO proposal to be remotely legal.
And lastly, I want to use this opportunity to invite you all to join the debate. This has been going on, as we have heard, since last year, and believe it or not, this is the first public debate that we had about this. We have tried to come into the closed door lobby meetings that have happened in Brussels, so far without discuss. Civil society was not on the table and you, as a technical community, that will to live in this new regulatory framework, were also not on the table. So I would welcome you all to join the debate, to help us make it case for the open Internet, and to, hopefully, prevent this ETNO proposal from becoming a reality. Thank you.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you, Thomas, for your views on that. We'll go further and back to Fredy Kunzler, who has prepared a short set of slides. If we can just have them online. You have your own opening statement.
FREDY KUNZLER: Thanks for the invitation to this round table. My name is Fredy Kunzler, I tried to shorten the long title that it fits my slides. So GAFAM to pay for FTTH is the goal basically.
I don't know. It doesn't work, maybe I'm too stupid to press the right button.
So, a short word about Init7. This is me. I am CEO and founder and network engineer at Init7. Init7 is an independent broadband provider in Switzerland, we do gigabit FTTH since 2014, we recently launched 25 gigabit FTTH because it's cool, same price, includes TV, and we aim to provide broadband service which is not broken. Unlike many others. And if you are interested in what we do, see the archive of my colleague Pascal Gloor, our CTO, he presented yesterday in the Connect Working Group.
We also won some awards.
And now, to the topic of to pay for FTTH. So, here I had a slide in between. It's at just no. Because, broadband customers, they are causing the traffic and not content. And this is the big misconception of what we had before. Content is not producing traffic. That's simply not true. The traffic is requested by the end customer. Despite often asymmetric traffic flow from content towards eyeballs, the traffic is still requested by the broadband customer. There is one exception, that's e‑mail, but that doesn't count because that's below noise level.
The principle calling party pays has been reverted by the incumbents to sending party pays, and the buy ball provider incumbents can enforce that due to their technical monopoly. And I have here this drawing, that graphic was produced a couple of years ago by the company formerly known as level 3, actual name might change in a few months again but never mind.
So the yellow points are important because these yellow points are the gatekeepers. So we have the angry guy preventing you to enter the club unless you pay high.
And that technical monopoly that allows incumbents to enforce the double sided payment for broadband customers and from content for at least a decade, and that's simply illegal because it's an abuse of the technical monopoly.
Now these same incumbents, they expect additional contribution from content providers to build out FTTH infrastructure, fibre, etc., etc. So, my opinion of the incumbents, they are wining at this and it's so pathetic, because I mean, they really have miserable life. I'm not sure whether you can see that, buts these are the figures of Deutsche Telekom, and sorry, guys, they make big money and I don't know why they want their rich neighbour to pay additional to contribute to their money they make everyday.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: So, now having seen the questions online, we are going to go back to our online presenters, and I would like to ask Frode Sorensen to come up first and give us his point of view since he has been working as an open Internet Working Group Chair since 2012. The floor is yours.
FRODE SORENSEN: Thank you for the invitation, I represent the Norwegian regulator, the so‑called Norwegian communications authority, and I expect I'm invited due to my background as Chair of the Berec network charity Working Group ten years ago. And as you can see on the title of my presentation, I will try to look into the current discussion based on a paper from Berec in 2012 developed while I was co‑chair of the Working Group. I am one the authors of the document but it's also a document approved by BEREC so is also represents principles that are well understood by telecoms regulators.
I think that's sufficient about my background, and I can skip to the next slide, please.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Since you are controlling the slides ‑‑
FRODE SORENSEN: Is it possible for me to control it? Yes, okay.
As you can see, the slide is separated into four pieces. It was supposed to be animation, but anyway. Regarding the first two bullet point, the main content of the document is a discussion about the charging principle sending party network pays. It's been mentioned by other panelists already, and the reason for discussing this topic in this paper is the similarity between the current discussion about charging on the Internet and the traditional charging in telephony network. In telephony networks prices are regulated still, and it has been for many years, and the main problem which is remaining regarding telephony regulation is that when you place a call, a telephony call to an end user, you must parse the telephony provider, the telephony provider therefore has a monopoly of the call and therefore it's a possibility for this provider to raise the charge to a high level, to a higher level than what is the optimum price for the market.
And therefore, telephony regulators still regulate the telephony operators.
And the danger that BEREC saw in 2012 which might also be the problem this year, is that if Internet traffic is charged by the receiving network because the sending network sends a lot of traffic, then there might also this time be a need to regulate the agreement between the sending and receiving party in the network.
Another point that was important to this paper from BEREC, as you can see on the next two bullet points, is that there is a dependency between the ISP and the content provider, because the ISP can't sell his access without any content. And on the other hand, of course, also, the content will not reach the receiver without a connection.
So, therefore, it's important also for the ISP that the content is distributed over the Internet. So, the content itself is also a value that is important for the ISP.
And related to that, it has also been pointed out already in this discussion, it's the end user that requests the content, and the end user pays for the transfer of the content already. So that's in interest additional ‑‑ the traditional way of working of the Internet n traditional) the ISP is receiving his income from his own end users.
Finally, in this BEREC paper the conclusion is that this model has enabled high level of innovation, growth of Internet connectivity, and development of a vast area of content and applications to the ultimate benefit of the end users. Attempts to undermine this could put this benefit at risk.
So, the goal for this view, the reason for this view from BEREC is that we still need to maintain this innovative power of the Internet, and it's of course mainly due to the small and the upcoming content providers, application providers, that this is important. This is not to protect the big content providers of course. The main reason for this is to protect the smaller providers.
Taking a brief look at 2022. Things have changed. The traffic is increasing. That's actually nothing new, it has been increasing all the time on the Internet, but of course, as we all know, the big gatekeepers, the big content providers, they have become even bigger for the last ten years. But this is also the reason for new regulation that is introduced in Europe, like the digital markets act. So steps are taken already to take this into account.
Furthermore, related to that, BEREC is also publishing a report on the Internet ecosystem in a couple of weeks, which will also discuss the relationship between ISPs and content providers, which might also shed some light on this discussion.
These principles from this paper ten years ago should still be valid in our understanding, and I will, afterwards, leave the rest of the BEREC discussion to my colleague, Klaus Nieminen who is the current Chair of the Working Group. Thanks.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you very much Frode, and Klaus, if you are online, please take the floor.
KLAUS NIEMINEN: Okay. Good afternoon everybody. It's my pleasure to be here. I am Klaus Nieminen co‑chair for the open Internet Working Group and basically we have been working with net neutrality and also with the IP inter‑connection for around 20 years now. I am normally working in traffic co‑that's the Finnish regulator.
Maybe a couple of points first on this topic. I think the motivation of course and maybe one the ideas but also was presented by ETNO was that we want to see gigabit society targets to be met. And that of course we all agree that we would like to get good broadband connectivity for everybody in Europe. But the question is that whether there is a fairness issue around this topic. I think we have been hearing from the Commission that they have been investigating the matter, and I think it's also mentioned by the Commission that ‑‑ well, they would look into the question whether there is a fairness issue or not.
From a direct point of view I would say that we consider this matter very important. I mean we are very happy to see how the Internet has evolved and basically it has been ‑‑ allowed the Internet ecosystem grow and also provide invasions and of course they would like to see the Internet also to continue in that manner.
Now, well just actually agreed, because I am in Dublin at BEREC meeting and we have just agreed that we are studying this topic too. We want to give our contribution for the discussion, but the ‑‑ well the discussion is not just starting in BEREC. So basically I'm not really going to give you any insights on what the outcomes will be, but like, I promise that you will hear from us in the near future around this topic.
And basically, I would also like to mention that we are seeing that there are actually plenty of different contributions already available. I think the, for example, the consultant study studied for by the Chairman regulator was very helpful. Also the direct cap the inter‑connection ecosystem and how it works at the moment. We are seeing there is also contributions for the specific fair share topic. We have seen the contribution from ETNO, but we also received one contribution from ISPs regarding this topic for the open Internet guidelines, and that will be published in June, and we plan to publish the open Internet guidelines but I have to say those ISPs were very critical for that proposal, the ETNO proposal, and also seeing that the there are potential competition issues if that kind of proposal would go through.
We have, of course, the only example from South Korea, and I think we also are going to look to that use case, and definitely we see that the end user ‑‑ the impact to the end user not to the competition need to be paid a lot of attention. So basically we believe that whether somebody would make a clear proposal or to implement this fair share, so we must make sure that also these aspects are properly evaluated.
And I think, from my point of view, I see that it's not going to be clear‑cut, we see from the industry and the ISPs that this is not all ISPs are supporting this and some other ISPs very much opposing it so to me the landscape is already quite slit in that manner.
And maybe to conclude, I would say that really shall the fairness is also something I would like to maybe put as a question basically, then we talk, if there is a fairness issue, what do we mean by the fairness in this regard? I mean, did the big telcos are talking about, a lot of the traffic asymmetry, but if you think about, for example, the small eyeball ISPs, to me the traffic is very asymmetric because they have only the customers consuming the content and basically it's not really that much asymmetric in the traffic at all. But that was basically maybe my remark that I would like to get the good discussion, would I like to see a lot of our, let's say, contributions and also this topic to evaluate it from different angles. So we would have let's say a good contribution also for the political discussion.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you very much, Klaus. We'll now go back to ‑‑ before we open up the floor, back to the panelists here in person and maybe who would like to make further comments.
MAART PALOVIRTA: Well, there was so many comments to be quite honest, I don't know where to start.
Maybe on the net neutrality point that Thomas brought up so because I explicitly said that we have excluded this from the consideration, and so I wouldn't want to be dragging it back into discussion, because, and maybe Klaus and Frode can correct me, but inter‑connection is outside the open Internet rules as we speak today, and I may be wrong, but I would be happy to be corrected if that's not the case.
So, we don't see it as an issue of net neutrality as such as I already said, from our point of view there is no need to let's say revisit that side at this stage. Of course we are aware that open Internet rules are likely to be reviewed or at least there will be an assessment in the come year or two. So that's another opportunity to discuss this, and there will be certainly many other stakeholders who will be contributing to that discussion as well.
The point on openness and transparency on discussion I would also like to say this is not the first public event we are discussing this. We have two events in Brussels this week. The shady meetings behind the doors, we have doing this, this is truly an issue where we with like to collect inputs.
The solution is not very clear and it's also a very European situation so, the regulatory framework in Europe is quite tight for the telecom operators, and tighter than in other parts of the world so it doesn't leave a lot of room for manoeuvre to find alternative solutions, if you like.
So, well I don't know if there are further questions on specific points. But I would leave that there just to echo Klaus maybe that, you know, we have now the very ambitious targets in Europe, the political targets, fibre and 5G to everybody by 2030 and if we want to be serious about this the current financial state of the European telco sectors simply doesn't allow it and I appreciate that there was some nice numbers being shown, but BT for example has a very successful operation in the US that is doing much better and mainly because of the regulatory differences between the US and Europe. And hence, for example, it can be argued that 5G deployment in the US is much further ahead than in Europe because of this investment issues.
And I'm happy to provide numbers if that's of interest, but also I understand that this is not the financial community so I won't perhaps not go there. Thank you.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you Maart. I am sure people are taking notes as you speak, and waiting for their comment. But we also would like to open this round table to people here in the room. So please, there is a roving mic here and come up to the microphone if you have a specific question to any of the panelists, thank you.
Anyone wanted to make a point, Thomas?
THOMAS LOHNINGER: Just to clarify. Such access fees of sending party pays are clearly illegal in 2010 and 2015 of the Internet order in the FCC of the United States. Of course there have been scrapped by the Trump administration but the Californian and New York chart law would still prohibit. This similarly in India the net neutrality framework would prohibit this, I point to you paragraph 5 and 6 of the guidelines that clearly say that inter‑connection cannot be used as a circumvention tool for net neutrality protections and circumvention I think is the right approach because it would in fact mean that the traffic from certain cups is treated differently in the network than it would be at a lower quality to the end user. And the price is also affected. Inter‑connection between access networks of course is out of the current net neutrality framework. We have a case by case provision there, as, you know, in the ECC and just lastly because this money aspect, the ETNO study is vague on several fronts, but it is very concrete when it is talking about how the money should be used.
And you are clearly excluding any taxation model or any fund based model where we could have a democratic debate how these incomes should be used. So there is only with you way that the telecom industry sees here that the money should be used for them.
And then lastly, there are studies that can show us that in the countries with the highest termination fees, you have the lowest network investment. So, with all of this pile of evidence, also the aforementioned study from the German telecom regulator on inter‑connection in particular I think is quite recent, I think we need to take all the evidence into account when making policy.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: I am going to give the floor to an online person first, if ‑‑ unless this is a direct response, Patrik Tarpey has been waiting to make his question.
SPEAKER: Hello, I am here in the room. Patrik Tarpey. That's the UK communications regulator. Just a couple of observations.
Are you not concerned that if this plan were to go ahead, the unintended consequence would be that the smaller operators who don't have such great negotiating power, like the amount of libels they have, the size of their actual, you know, user base, could be seriously disadvantaged. So you may find that unintended consequence may be that rural or other unsupported area would have further detriment.
Secondly, earlier today I mentioned the words of oblivious technology and the ubiquity of encryption, and we have seen that is actually up ended this notion that operators can complain and clearly see the real destination and source of traffic that's flown through their access network. There is two kind of concerns I have immediately. I want to emphasise this is not ‑‑ me as an individual here, but there is as I say one about compeition size, negotiating power and the other is the oblivious side of encryption.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you. Patrik, would anyone like to make a comment on any of these two? Thank you ‑‑
THOMAS LOHNINGER: I completely concur and I would like to have answers to those.
JIM REID: Jim Reid. Operator, I am not ‑‑ so I clearly don't know what I'm talking about. I think Klaus made an important point earlier on in the discussion about the word "Fair" because although there are different interpretations of that, what's considered fair for an incumbent operator would be different to what content provider thinks is fair, object should be different to what an IXP thinks is fair. So, we have to be very careful use of the language for these kinds of things because things can mean different thins to different people and depend on contents. So I think an important part of the discussion that has to take Lear is have a common understanding of the terminology. Simply saying this is not fair, well that may be your perception of it but for another part of the market this particular thing is fair, more than reasonable.
I think another important thing is we have to bear in mind that the discussion about network neutrality is different than what it was like, 10, 20 years ago in the previous discussions and because the technology and architecture of the Internet has changed. Patrik has mentioned things about the ubiquitous update of encryption technologies. There is also other work happening with delivery of content. Geoff Huston who does a lot of research and stuff, gives an excellent talk, one which people should look at it day to day in transit. And his concern is the big content operators have their own global fibre network and they are still......... inside the eyeball networks. So that the eyeball networks are not being able to transit to get the content. All they are doing is distributing over their own internal network to the end user. So from that point of view the course...... next to never, I don't know. But I am speculating.
I think that's... and incumbent operators is 55% or 75% of the traffic is from these big six content providers.
And that's actually coming into your network and that traffic is actually distributed within the network, I do not actually participating for the transit to get content from Facebook or whatever to actually bring into your network. I think we have to be very careful what we're talking about the traffic...... what do we mean by 55% of our traffic comes from these providers. Thanks.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you Jim, you said fair, not fear.
SPEAKER: I can confirm that, we're talking about 80%, up to 80% of the traffic flows in from just ten ASNs these days, and I disagree with the comment of Maart that she said it's a challenge for eyeball operators. That's not. It's actually easier if you just have to talk to a few to optimise a lot of traffic. And it doesn't cost a lot. I mean we're just talking here about the cost of Layer3. And a typical buy ball, I don't know, I probably would spend one or two euro per subscriber among 40 IP apart and that's almost nothing compared to the total cost of providing a service.
And to come to the agreement, saying that we are not talking net neutrality. I mean. Don't we passively not upgrading is actually an aggressive act. And in my opinion, it's a violation of net neutrality. And last but not least, there is no lobby in Brussels for the end users. So, what do they expect? They expect a service which is not broken. And what is not broken is it just okay that they don't call support or is it, do we really want to provide a good service? Are we proud enough to provide a good Internet service to our end customer?
All these games, who is paying whom, etc., that's against my standards of being a proud network engineer to provide a good service to my end customer.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Maybe the just immediate reaction, okay, yes, in theory, it's easier to talk to a few companies but what if they don't want to talk to you if they are too small. What in ‑‑
SPEAKER: They talk to me, yesterday I had the meeting with guys of NetFlix, they bring they new cache servers. They want me to provide a good service and I help them and we have a joint interest to provide a good service to our end customer.
MAART PALOVIRTA: You probably have a privileged relationship there then.
ALEX DE JOODE: Definitely not.
MAART PALOVIRTA: There was a gentleman talking about the network levels. We do of course understand that the big tech are investing in the global infrastructure that they are bringing the content nearer to end customer, and I have been privileged, actually, to hear Geoff Huston's, his transcript data presentation in a RIPE meeting some yearsing and it's very eye opening. So we're here really talking about the network layers from the CDN, from the cache to the end user, we're not talking about the global Internet as such from our point of view.
SPEAKER: Fredrik Korsback, Amazon web servers. We talk with everyone.
ALEX DE JOODE: If I may add to this, if the content provider put caches within the network of the telco, whatever happens within the network of the telco is covered by net neutrality. So if you say we're going to do stuff with it, we want to get paid extra etc., you are directly interfering with net neutrality. It's not like okay, it's outside the border, its transit, it's coming, it's inter‑connection.
MAART PALOVIRTA: I don't know, maybe we have regulators online for clear interpretation.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: If anyone wants to make a comment from Klaus or Frode, please...
KLAUS NIEMINEM: If I may. First of all, as mentioned already, we considered that for example the data connections are something that the Internet may look into, because I mean, the commercial practices from an ISP cannot circumvent the end user rights according to the free one and of course the fair treatment obligation that covers the pricing practices and basically well I would say that they are still not regulating the inter‑connections but they are relevant in this context, that that would be my answer. And basically we haven't had that kind of the cases, I think that many that's just it's not really a topic that's been, let's say, a lot in BEREC at the moment.
FRODE SORENSEN: I agree with you Klaus. And I could also add that what is net neutrality? That's also a philosophical discussion, and it also depends on jurisdiction. So, in our case, it's a question about what does the European open Internet regulations say about the question. And in that regard, it's very clear about the access leg of the service and it's not very explicit about the inter‑connection leg. So it is covered to some extent, which Thomas referred to, but I also agree with Maart that it's not that obvious how inter‑connections should be regulated a based on net neutrality and that is also the reason why BEREC is not referring explicitly to net neutrality in the 2012 paper. It was discussed on a more general basis, based on, for example, the question about termination monopoly. But, that's a current State. You never know what happens to the regulation, so of course it could change in the future, and I believe it's also more explicitly covered in, for example, the US, the former US regulation and the Indian regulation, but not that explicitly in the European regulation, as far as I can understand.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you for both clarification, we'll go back to the line and please say your name.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: Somebody from LACNIC, speaking for myself. Not properly a question but a perspective from our region. We have a reality totally different from Europe, and we have, nowadays, 16,000 ISPs, small IXPs, all those IXPs are deploying fibre which they network, they all take fibre. At least each one ISP is present in the city. And I think it is a reality was due to a lot of things together. First, our Internet governance model that was created in 1995 is present there today. And a law, a law that's respected single net neutrality and mainly by the poor something of the big companies to provide service in the remote locations, because if you are expecting from the big companies to provide maybe we are in the last jury.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you from that point of view from Latin America. Well done.
SPEAKER: Blake Lillis, peering geek, for myself. The Internet has consistently proven itself to not really care too much about national political borders, and we already see this in content markets where, for example, France, where I live, there are certain media companies that have monopolies on certain media problems and so many streaming companies simply serve streaming into that market from other EU markets, thus completely avoiding the French content monopoly on whatever content is.
If in a hypothetical future where the European Union has member states on a (something) model would that not shift the inter‑connection market for European traffic to nearby markets that do not need to do such things such as the UK?
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Anyone?
AUDIENCE SPEAKER: That's really for a question to the organisations.
FREDY KUNZLER: In Switzerland there are a bunch of data centres where you can rent space and connection.
MAART PALOVIRTA: I mean there was some comment on the accent paper, not an ETNO paper, the policy options and I think it's very clear that the policy chapter first of all is very short, so it is not a lengthy policy analysis of the options that should be considered. It is kind of shallow list of options at this stage. What could be options to address this issue, in the wider not only in the inter‑connection sphere, but in the wider policy context in Europe whereby we have in network investment objectives. So, the purpose of this paper was never to conclude and say listen, this is what we want or this is what we don't want etc., etc. It is to put some options out there for discussion, and then to debate what are the potential positive consequences and then the no doubt unintended negative consequence that is be would the result of it.
So, we're not there, and also, there was a comment about what would be fair and what would not be fair.
This is ‑‑ we don't see that this is something for us to decide. This is something for the policy makers. As we said, this is a policy issue. It is something for the policy makers to lock at as well and to decide, first of all there a problem? And then if there is, there seems to be a fairness issue, what would be fair? So I don't think that operators would step in and say well this or that. Similarly for the policy options we have a very, very tightly nit regularly and policy kind of network in Europe, so, there will be, if there will be every time there will be new pieces of law, there are always consequence so this should be of course very carefully analysed.
SPEAKER: I am Torsten Sommer, I am here at my first RIPE meeting and I am a bit nervous right now.
I speak only for myself, also U my company has sponsored for me being here. I have a big background in politics, so, after hearing all that discussion right now, it sound a bit to me it's not just about commercial stuff. For me, it sounds like controlling the market. It sounds a bit like who is deciding who can enter that market after all. And if the big companies can decide this in Europe, if a small company can enter the market if they can afford it, maybe then those big companies only stay by themselves. And that's just the first step, because who owns these big companies in Europe? The big telcos, most of them, are owned by governments, by states in Europe, the biggest. For example, the Deutsche Telekom. What's the second step in that?
If you control the market and have every control of all that stuff, what would be the second step to control the content? So, this discussion is not just about who is.entering the market and stuff, it's just the first step discussion, just for me.
So, maybe what's your ‑‑ I would like to hear what's your thought of that statement? Thank you.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Everyone is thinking whether content is controlled.
FREDY KUNZLER: Is point is if you look at from the client's perspective, who is the client of an incumbent? Is it the customer, the broadband customer? Or is it the shareholder? And I believe it's the shareholder, and this whole discussion is only about how incumbents can protect their revenue streams for the shareholder. That's the only point. It's not about broadband. It's just that, that's the horse we're riding on but it's only about the profit of the incumbents.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: We're getting close to the end of time but we can still extend for one more question if there is one question, burning one, online we don't have any, nor in the audience, but I think it would be really nice to hear from everyone who is here, what do they think is the next step going forward, because there seemed to be some kind of exclusion in the regulation whether inter text charges with part of net neutrality and whether that's part of a broader and what would these experts and regulators suggest where this technical community go and participate further in this discussion.
So, we can start from maybe people online, maybe first Frode and then Klaus and then go from Fred back to Maart.
KLAUS NIEMINEN: If I may basically as I said already in the beginning, my understanding is that the commission is, at the time, studying the topic, and we might get something out of them. So basically, we are not of course sure what the commission potential proposal would be, and basically as I also mentioned, that as in BEREC, we also like to contribute to that discussion and basically I think we would be getting some application in the near future.
But basically, yes, in the next steps are still seem a bit unsure to me. 2001 or two at different levels. Of course what the sometime scale would be, so, when we would have any concrete proposals, if we are going to have them, and secondly, also I mean what will be proposed and what kind of the tools would be of any use to implement them. So basically I think we are in a very early phase of this discussion, and as far as I understand it, there is not that much to conclude yet.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you. Frode, if you'd like to go next?
FRODE SORENSEN: I agree with Klaus that we still don't know exactly what should be the next step related to net neutrality. I think we have to study the current situation in detail. After all, it's ten years ago since the previous statement from BEREC related to this specific topic. But furthermore, we also have the net neutrality regulation which was not present in 2012, so, this is of course an opportunity to see the two things in connection with each other, and I think it's also relevant to refer to other BEREC activities related to the Internet ecosystem. BEREC is currently start studying topics on a general level, and as I mentioned previously, we will launch a report for public consultation in the middle of June, and there is also upcoming work streams for the next year related to other aspects of the Internet, not only net neutrality, but to look into the Internet ecosystem at a more ‑‑ with a more general approach. Thanks.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you.
FREDY KUNZLER: Our request to the regulator to regulate the IP connection on a cost orientated basis is now pending for nine years. I hope it won't go another nine years until we have a result. We have proven with the study [of] WIC, some of you might know this statute, WIC, that the true cost of inter‑connection is zero and so zero settlement peering would be the result, we want that regulated, and I don't know how much impact it would have to the European market if the Swiss regulated this, but certainly it would be attractive for content to host the content then in Switzerland and push to Europe and so as we are in the middle of Europe but not part of Europe.
THOMAS LOHNINGER: So, as I mentioned earlier, I am very happy that this debate here today and I think it should be a starting point because right now I can only tell you what happens in Brussels is quite isolated from arguments and it really requires the insight of practitioners like you here in the room to inform politicians.
Commission Betane announced that the Commission will move on this probably with binding legislation later this year. Of course this could be postponed, it could be the next term we have to review of the net neutrality framework coming up next year but this danger is real. If you believe it's too stupid and politicians would never do this, I refer to the next session on chat control on the direct attack on end‑to‑end encryption. We have to acknowledge the reality that arguments that seem very simple to us are not common sense somewhere else. And so, this transfer of knowledge, this making our own voices and expertise heard in the Brussels community is the big task that lies ahead of us all if we want to prevent this and hear wearing my Board head for European rights we would be happy an a society to also engage with RIPE, with other communities to make the politicians understand what the true consequence of such proposals would be. And that's also why I'm here, and I am very easy to talk, to I am also very easy to find online and I hope we can take it from here. Thank you.
ALEX DE JOODE: I fully agree. ETNO has been working behind the curtains. This popped up a week ago. It means that we can't wait. There are a lot of people here in the room. Hopefully you care, maybe we can do something with RIPE. Maybe you are a member of a local association, so please see what you can do. In the end of the year, most likely, Commissioner Betane would have to be something to show. It most likely will not be good for what we consider the Internet. So, if you feel that this is a real threat, you have resources, make sure you go to Brussels and you pitch the SME, small medium sized enterprise angle, that's what Brussels really likes to support, innovation, that's something they would like to support, don't tell them that you are an American big tech, they really don't like you, you have your own lobbyist in Brussels, who will do the fight also, but please try to find some coalition. We're here, we're willing to help. Thank you. (Enterprises)
MAART PALOVIRTA: So, my understanding is very much the same as that of Klaus. So the European Commission has publicly said that they are working on it, they are looking for data. I am not sure if it will be studies or other things, but like yours we are also waiting for further feedback from that side, and expecting, I guess, that there will be further discussions on this topic in the coming months.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: Thank you very much, and with that, before Chris, you are something burning to say.
SPEAKER: I know we're running a long time. I know I want to say thank you all for being here. It was a very big panel but ‑‑ sorry, Chris Buckridge RIPE NCC. It was a very big panel but it's really valuable to have all those different percent and thank you Desiree IPv4 moderating that, that's obviously a challenge too. Also I particularly want to say thank you to Maart for stepping into the lines. It wouldn't have been as good without her.
MAART PALOVIRTA: Thank you Chris and thank you for the attention. I am just also doing my job. So thanks.
DESIREE MILOSHEVIC: So, a thank you to our panelist and I'll pass you back to to the next speaker online. And a big round of applause.
JULF HELSINGIUS: Thank you Desiree, that was a great panel. So, yes, as you heard, you thought these ideas were crazy wait till you hear the next presentation. We have Konstantinos Komatis talking about an interesting proposal from the EU.
KONSTANTINOS KOMATIS: Hi everyone, thank you very much. So, some good news apparently coming from Europe. For those of you who are familiar, the Europe has been working for quite some time now, the European Commission, better yet, has been working for quite some time now on a proposal scan can Europe in the the exploitation of children and this proposal has actually been postponed quite a few times, and in the beginning of the week the Commission finally dropped it, and a bunch of us have been reading in and trying to absorb the extent of what the Commission is proposing.
So, being conscious of time, I am going ‑‑ I have been asked to provide a high level assessment, or, better yet, a high level analysis what have this proposal is all about.
So, in a nutshell: The essence of the proposal is that Europe wants to scan all of your WhatsApp photos, Imessage texts and Snapchat to check for child sexual abuse images and videos. Of course, you know that better man me, these would directly affect, and most probably will undermine end to end‑to‑end encryption especially given the fact that most of these services support end‑to‑end encrypted communications.
The proposal includes various things. It recommends the creation of a new EU centre to deal with child abuse content and introduces obligations to companies to detect, report, block or remove them from their platforms. At the same time, tech companies, and these can range from web‑hosting services to messaging platforms have been ordered to detect both removed and previously discovered material as well as potential instances of grooming. And on top of that, the detection to take place in chat messages, files uploaded to online services or on websites that host abusive material.
For those of you who have been following the debate, this is similar to what Apple tried to do last year quite unsuccessfully after a huge backlash from both security, private and civil society experts.
Now, if passed, the EU legislation would require tech companies to conduct risk assessments for their services to assess the levels of CSA on their platforms, and their existing prevention measures. If necessary, regulators or courts may even issue detection orders that instruct technology companies to install an operate technologies to detect CSAM. These detection orders would be issued for specific periods of time. The draft legislation does not specify what technologies would be installed or how they will operate, but it says that this will be vetted by the EU abuse centre and should be used as per proposal, according to the proposal, even when end‑to‑end encryption is in place.
I think here is the crux of the issue. In discussions that I had with some people in the Commission while this was cooking, the Commission really understands well the impossible task of having it both ways, but it really thinks that it doesn't care, and there seems seems to be if someone reaches a proposal and tech companies need to circle the square.
In terms of implementation there is only one logical way to go about this and this is client side scamming where the content is examined when the encrypted on the user's device for them to view or read.
So, by imposing a mandatory monitoring requirement for all online communications and effectively outlawing end‑to‑end encrypted services the proposal would violate children's fundamental rights, including the right to respectful privacy, including communications, confidentiality, the protection of personal data, freedom of expression and information, and the integrity of the person. So, it is quite ironic that the proposal would violate the very rights of children that it actually seeks to protect.
Now, the role of encryption in protecting children's fundamental rights is, has been debated and debated over the years and of course it's not new, but it has also been recognised by organisations like UNICEF. So, in October 2020, working paper with the title "encryption privacy and children's right to protection from harm" UNICEF's office of research emphasised the importance of including children's privacy rights in policy discussions about child safety. It cautions the state against enacting policies undermining encryption in the name of protect TTLS children begin the vital role that encryption plays in protections children's privacy, security and safety.
So, the current proposal from the Commission fails to strike this appropriate balance, it openly admits that it would violate users rights, and fails to recognise children amongst those users. This oversight omits a crucial consideration that would be weighed among the numerous interests that come into play when evaluating whether and how to restrict multiple fundamental rights of individuals in a democratic society in the name of crime prevention.
Finally, the proposal is also problematic because it makes unsupported claims about the necessity of detecting grooming via the automated scanning of the contents of interpersonal communications. And the proposal it meets is highly intrusive and sensitive. Contrary to the proposal's claims, there is actually peer review research and scholars like Riana Pfefferkorn from Stanford University have demonstrated the prevalence of multi‑groom techniques among online service providers. This search actually supports the viability of other options for abuse detection besides automated content monitoring, such as stools for user reporting.
The proposal is currently out for public comment and I would really encourage everyone who is interested to submit comments to this front. And it doesn't really ‑‑ it sort of follows much of the proposals that we have seen coming out from jurisdictions like the UK, and where as the EU had here the opportunity to sort of take a different path. It seems that it's taking the same path as those other jurisdictions. And I will stop here because I believe that there are five minutes left.
Thank you very much.
JULF HELSINGIUS: Thank you very much. Does anyone have any questions or comments to this? No? I would have expected at least "Are you serious?" It's interesting, because the next speaker would be Corinne anyway, and she just went offline.
Meanwhile we have a couple of any other business items, so ‑‑ but if you still ‑‑ I meanwhile we have Konstantinos Komatis here, you may have questions for him. Is your question to this one or is it your own item?
DR. CORRINE CATH: No, networks it was my own item.
JULF HELSINGIUS: Daniel Karrenberg was also in the queue. So yes, Corrine you can go ahead with your part, thank you.
DR. CORRINE CATH: Hi, everyone, it's so nice to be able to join the conversation. I had hoped to be in Berlin in person but that unfortunately didn't work out.
Thanks so much to the Chairs for giving me a bit of space in the agenda to talk about the open technology fund, where I work as the vice‑president of research. When I simply wanted to do was put the financed on everyone's radar because I think we do a lot of work that's relevant for the RIPE community. And so the open technology fund is essentially an independent organisation that works to protect Internet freedom, and to keep the Internet open and accessible.
And we do that essentially by providing grants, financial support for both individuals and organisations who are working to keep the Internet open, which naturally includes a lot of people at RIPE.
And part of the work that we do is focused on the development of tech, so we support people who want to build VPNs, we support censorship resistant browsers, we were early supporters of signal, to give a little bit of an example of the kind of technology that we worked on in the past.
But, we also support research and researchers. So some examples of people who have done recent research that was O T F supported, we had one fellow who was looking at the QUIC protocol and figuring out the ways in which it was and it was not resistant to censorship and what could be done to the protocol to improve it.
We have another person working on figuring out how ISPs in India and in Pakistan actually end up implementing the filtering mandate that get passed down to them and we also do a bunch of different projects in and around other countries that tend to level limit access to the Internet.
And as a part of that we also focused really heavily on supporting the Internet measurement community. So we worked with censor planet, with known a W uni and also have supported researchers who work with data from the RIPE Atlas.
So all of this, as I say, if this sounds like what you are already working on, then it sounds like it might fit what the open technology fund can support. Please check out our website. We are open tech dot fund, and as you can see, if you have an interesting project, you can just fill out a really lightweight application form, and I am really excited to see what kind of people might pop up and if you want to have a more in‑depth conversation, shoot me an e‑mail. So thanks so much for giving me some space. I really appreciate it and look forward to working with all of the folks in the RIPE community.
JULF HELSINGIUS: Thank you Corinne.
We have a tiny slot for a few any other items? Yes, Alex...
SPEAKER: Would I like to remind all the people here that June 7th, the terrorist content online regulation kicks in, and you will be required to remove content within one hour.
JULF HELSINGIUS: Short and concise.
SPEAKER: Chris Buckridge, RIPE NCC: As you probably all gathered from the presentations today and everything else you are hearing, it's a really busy time for Internet governance and regulation. There are a lot of pieces in motion at the moment, a lot of new initiatives coming in. And the RIPE NCC is engaging in as many of those as we feel we need to, and that's a fair few of them these days.
So I wanted to give a very, very quick, from the floor, update on a couple of things. One is to note that a lot of work we do is based on working with our community, talking to all of you, and so in that sense it's probably very useful for me to give a quick note about some changes that we have had in the RIPE NCC team.
Some of you would have been very used to having Marco Hogewoning talking on the RIPE NCC's behalf. He has left us to join the Dutch government as their representative. We're happy for him and very good for Marco. Somewhat sad for the RIPE NCC. We have Bastion Clossens who you possibly have come across his work with AMS‑IX in the past. He'll be stepping into some of the work that Marco was doing. Elena Kosic is working with us in southeast Europe and Suzanne Taylor who I'm sure you all know is taking a more leading role for the team there but these actually off at the CEPT meeting this week.
There is a lot going on. ITU, obviously there is a lot. The WTSA has already happened. There is a TDC, next month building up to the plenipotentiary during the year. I am happy to you can at that to community members who might be talking to the national delegations or governments about that.
There is a lot going on in the UN level. There is currently an open call for sessions at the IGF which will take place at the end of the year, but that call end on 3rd June, so if you have any interest in doing that, I am happy to talk more to people about that, and actually on that multistakeholder advisory group for the IGF this year. I am close to a lot of those discussions.
There is also in that UN space, a proposal for a global digital compact which is new an exciting and some what ill‑defined document that the UN is hoping to get published next year and they have currently got an open call for input on that, which is open till September so I'd encourage people to have a look at that and provide input.
The final one I just wanted to know is that Euro day, which is the European IGF is happening next month in Italy, and it would be great to see people there, or there in person or online, I think there will be a lot of discussion about some of the issues we have talked about today but also some of the other issues that are in the offing. So thank you for the time Julf and thank you.
JULF HELSINGIUS: Thank you Chris, anyone else have anything? If not I notice my screen is now saying Friday morning start so I think it's time for us to wrap up.
Thank you everybody for coming and it's so nice to see you in person. Thank you.
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