Broad Coalition Urges European Parliament to Adopt Amendments to Save Net Neutrality

For Immediate Release

October 25, 2015

Leading Companies, Investors, Academics and NGOs Urge European Parliament

to Save Net Neutrality Proposal through Key Amendments

Ahead of European Parliamentary vote, a broad coalition of start-ups, businesses, non-profits and legal scholars urges Parliament to adopt critical amendments to proposed rules.


WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Oct. 27 the EU Parliament will vote on a net neutrality proposal that threatens the open Internet in Europe, according to a broad coalition that includes Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and thought leader Larry Lessig. The current proposal allows Internet service providers (ISPs) to create online fast lanes, making it difficult for start-ups, small businesses, and non-profits who cannot pay extra fees to reach Internet users in Europe. As written, the proposal would harm the future of innovation, free speech, and economic growth in the European Union.

In an open letter, a broad coalition of nearly fifty start-ups, Internet companies and high-profile investors have asked members of Parliament to change course and adopt key amendments that would resolve the loopholes. If passed, the amendments would make the rules as strong as net neutrality protections adopted in the U.S.

The letter is signed by tech industry leaders such as Automaticc, inc (, BitTorrent, Etsy, Kickstarter, Netflix, Reddit, Soundcloud, Tumblr, and Vimeo. The coalition also includes leading venture capitalists such as Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham (Union Square Ventures), Brad Feld (Foundry Group), David Pakman (Venrock), and other leading venture capitalists from Europe and the US.

The letter states:

“We believe the United States Federal Communications Commission's June 2015 Open Internet Order provides a strong framework to keep the Internet free and open… These rules foster innovation, competition, and infrastructure deployment. U.S. companies would have not been able to compete or flourish without it. We want all companies around the world to enjoy the same protections.

“Unfortunately, the proposal before the Parliament contains four major problems that undermine network neutrality and threaten to undermine the EU technology industry...These problems jeopardize the future of the startup innovation and economic growth in the EU. They also create barriers for U.S. startups and businesses seeking to enter the EU market.

“Fortunately, members of Parliament have proposed key amendments that would effectively address all of these problems. If adopted, these amendments would secure strong and meaningful network neutrality protections for the EU – and for U.S. companies and speakers interacting with Europe.”

The full letter can be found here.

With the letter, companies and investors join a broad and rapidly growing coalition that supports the amendments. The coalition includes:

  • Thought leaders such as Tim Berners-Lee of the World Wide Web Foundation, Larry Lessig of Harvard Law School, Mike Butcher of TechCrunch, and Barbara van Schewick of Stanford Law School;
  • International public interest organizations such as Access Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters without Borders,
  • European digital rights organizations such as Initiative Netzfreiheit, Edri, La Quadature du Net, Digitale Gesellschaft, Bits of Freedom, and others,
  • European public interest organizations, such as Allied for Start-Ups, which represents start-ups, the German Startup Association, and the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec),
  • US public interest and advocacy organizations such as Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press,  the Future of Music Coalition, which represents musicians, Engine Advocacy, which represent start-ups,
  • EU and US start-ups and technology companies such as BitTorrent, Cogent, Etsy, FourSquare, Kickstarter, MeetUp, Netflix, Reddit, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Twilio, and Vimeo,
  • Legendary venture capitalists such as Kevin Laws, COO of AngelList, Brad Burnham and Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures, and other leading venture capitalists from Europe and the US
  • Faith leaders such as Rev. Otis Moss III,  Brian McLaren, and Sister Simone Campbell, and
  • German media authorities and the Association of German Journalists.

The following are featured statements from leading voices in the coalition:

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Founding Director of the World Wide Web Foundation:

“If adopted as currently written, these rules will threaten innovation, free speech and privacy, and compromise Europe’s ability to lead in the digital economy. To underpin continued economic growth and social progress, Europeans deserve the same strong net neutrality protections similar to those recently secured in the United States. As a European, and the inventor of the Web, I urge politicians to heed this call. Meanwhile, the Web belongs to all of us, and so it’s up to each one of us to take action. European residents can visit the website today to contact their MEP and ask them to vote for the amendments that will protect the open Internet for us and future generations.” [Full statement can be found here].

Larry Lessig, American academic, attorney, political activist, and Harvard Law School Professor:

“Europe is poised to pass a bad net neutrality policy. [T]he proposal permits the infamous fast lanes that we fought hard to get rid of in the U.S. This will make it more expensive for start-ups and small businesses everywhere to reach people in Europe, and will make it harder for those without money — nonprofits, educators, artists, activists, and faith groups — to be heard by Europeans. Ultimately, it will become more difficult for Europeans and anybody who wants to interact with them to speak, organize, and connect online.

“Here’s the good news. Almost overnight, tech industry leaders, start-ups, high-profile investors, non-profits, and thought leaders organized a powerful movement to save the open Internet in Europe. In an open letter, more than thirty leading start-ups and investors from Europe and the US are demanding that members of Parliament change course and adopt key amendments that would close the loopholes. If passed, the amendments would make the proposal as strong as net neutrality protections adopted in the U.S.” [Full statement with Barbara van Schewick can be found here].

Barbara van Schewick, Professor of Law and Director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society:

“The future of the open Internet in Europe is on the line. The European Parliament is about to adopt a net neutrality proposal that threatens the future of economic growth, innovation and free speech in the European Union. The proposal is much weaker than net neutrality protections in the United States. Europeans deserve the same net neutrality protections as Americans. Without strong rules, European start-ups and businesses cannot effectively compete in the global market. The good news is that it's not too late to change course. Members of Parliament can still secure meaningful network neutrality for Europe -- if they adopt key amendments on Tuesday."

David Segal, executive director, Demand Progress:

"We are deeply concerned that the EU rules are much weaker than the US rules and therefore provide less protection for our activists and all citizens living in EU countries."

Evan Engstrom, policy director, Engine:

"Many of the startups we work with operate in global markets and depend on an international customer base to thrive. The EU Parliament's failure to enact strong net neutrality provisions would threaten the viability of many startups in Europe and would make it harder for international startups to reach users in Europe. In an increasingly global Internet economy, startups need the assurance that they can innovate anywhere in the world free from teleco discrimination."

Holmes Wilson, co-founder, Fight for the Future:

“If European telcos can slow any website to crawl, or extort payments for special “zero rating” deals, that affects every one of us, wherever we live. If we’re successful at passing all the amendments, the EU rules will be as strong as U.S. net neutrality rules.”

Casey Rae, CEO of Future of Music Coalition:

"The future of music and artistic expression depends on the open Internet in the US, Europe, and around the world. The European Parliament is about to adopt a proposal that threatens the open Internet in the European Union. It allows the creation of fast lanes, making it difficult for anyone who can't pay extra fees to reach people in Europe. If it becomes law, the proposal would harm independent artists and musicians around the world and their ability to reach and interact with European audiences. We urge the European Parliament to adopt key amendments that would save net neutrality in Europe -- and protect the future of music and creative expression for all of us."

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, the Catholic social justice lobby and organizer of the national “Nuns on the Bus” tour:

“My Christian faith teaches that we are to go to the edges of our society and hear the stories of those who are left out of our economy and outside our care. Once we have heard the stories, we are required to share them far and wide. Only through an open and free Internet can we even begin to do this work. Net neutrality is the way we keep the twenty-first century commons open to all engaged in the democratic process. Europeans deserve the same net neutrality protections we have in the United States. In order to protect the future of democracy, I urge the European Parliament to adopt key amendments to deliver meaningful net neutrality to the European Union.”

Greg Epstein, Humanist chaplain at Harvard University

“Today’s young people are the Internet Generation. For more than a decade, I have served as a chaplain for nonreligious students and young people — the demographic that now makes up 35 percent of young adults in the U.S. I’ve seen how this generation uses the Internet as a necessary place, not just to connect but also to change the world for the better. In the Humanist community, young people are using the Internet to raise millions of dollars for causes such as hurricane relief, micro-loans, and recovery from addiction. My own students and the local community have been able to package more than 120,000 healthy meals for food-insecure kids, because we could use the Internet to mobilize hundreds of volunteers and donors. Any party that threatens the open Internet jeopardizes our work — and risks losing an entire generation of supporters. Young people in U.S., Europe, and the around the world deserve an open Internet. That's why I urge the European Parliament to adopt amendments to keep the Internet open and free for future generations.”

Brian McLarenauthor, speaker, activist, and networker among innovative Christian leaders

“In my work as a faith-inspired author, advocate, and organizer, I see how important the Internet is for people of faith in the US, Europe, and around the world. From church websites to faith-based blogs, from theological education to online fellowship, from communicating with colleagues around the globe to organizing people for action across town, people of faith are using the Internet as creatively as they used print, radio, and TV in the past. But the Internet has an important advantage over traditional media: its cost of entry is low, which empowers voices that couldn’t pay to get a hearing in the past. I believe it is essential to preserve the democratized Internet, and to oppose efforts of huge, unaccountable corporations to favor some voices — especially wealthy ones — and disfavor everybody else. I urge the European Parliament to protect net neutrality by adopting amendments to ensure that the Internet remains open and free."

Dr. Sharon Groves, Vice President Public Engagement, Auburn Theological Seminary and former Human Rights Campaign religion and faith program director:

“An open Internet means survival for the LGBTQ community in nations around the globe. For LGBTQ young people who are still routinely told they are an abomination, embarrassment, or blight on the family name, the Internet is the first place they go for community and survival strategies. For parents trying to make sense of what their LGBTQ child’s experience and their own reactions, the Internet is where they turn for advice. Surfing the Internet is the equivalent for this generation of smuggling Is the Homosexual My Neighbor off the library shelf and devouring its messages in the privacy of a bathroom stall. As such, the open Internet is the mother’s milk to the LGBTQ movement. And for all those struggling with feelings of shame and isolation because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, it is literally a lifeline. That's why I believe it is a moral imperative that the European Parliament votes to adopt amendments that fully protect net neutrality for millions of people in the European Union.”

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago:

“At Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, we use the Internet to bring people into the church and empower them to help solve our communities’ most pressing issues. Any threat to the freedom of using the open Internet to evangelize and organize for the sake of sustaining and improving people’s quality of life is an assault on our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It would be like taking away a citizen’s right to vote. Whether in the US or Europe, Internet service providers cannot become gatekeepers who are allowed to adjust the volume and reach of our speech. We appeal to the European Parliament to strengthen its current proposal and adopt amendments to ensure meaningful net neutrality protections in Europe.”

Additional background material:

About the proposed amendments:

Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web:

Barbara van Schewick, Stanford Law School:

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Tech Crunch:

European Investor Ciaran O'Leary, Partner, Earlybird Ventures:

German State and Federal Media Authorities Joint Statement (Landesmedienanstalten):


Contact: Valarie Kaur, Stanford Law School:


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