Because OSNews is technically a site from the US, and because the technology industry is decidedly a US-centric industry, we often talk about US politics having adverse effects on technology – or, the other way around. That’s why I’ve been detailing the political movements here in The Netherlands with regards to net neutrality. After a lot of positive news, I’ve now got some bad news – bad news that involves the largest political party trying to block net neutrality – because one of its members of parliament, Afke Schaart, is a former KPN employee. And yes, KPN is the carrier that first announced it was going to block and throttle traffic.
So far, this story has had its ups and down. It started with a big downer, when the largest Dutch carrier, KPN, announced it was going to start charging extra for services like VoIP, instant messaging, Facebook, and so on. The other two Dutch carriers, T-Mobile and Vodafone, contemplated similar moves. It was later revealed that Vodafone was already blocking VoIP and charging extra for it. Vodafone was using DPI for this, and KPN announced it was going to use the same technology.
Uncharacteristically, the Dutch lower house was nearly unanimously disgusted, and moved to have net neutrality added to our telecommunications act. This proposal had the support of just about every political party, giving it a majority in the lower house. Our minister of economic affairs, Maxime Verhagen, accepted this, and started work on an official proposal. So far, so good.
And then, today happened. The largest party, the VVD, was curiously not on the list of supporters of the net neutrality proposal. This was strange, since the party’s political programme during the elections and after that stated they supported the concept. Something was afoot.
Now we know. The VVD has now made its own proposal, which no longer includes net neutrality. In the proposal, carriers and ISPs will be allowed to block services, and they will be allowed to charge extra for these services. In other words, carriers get to do whatever the heck they want, and charge extra for services that aren’t theirs. This goes against the wishes of the lower house.
This is where things get really interesting. This new proposal from the VVD comes from Afke Schaart, a member of the lower house for the VVD. After some not-so-deep digging, it was easily revealed today that she is a former employee of KPN – exactly, the carrier that started this whole thing. She joined the company in 2001, and from Januari 2008 until June 2010 (right before she joined the lower house), she was KPN’s director of public affairs – a fancy term for Chief Lobbying. She actually lobbied for KPN in the lower house.
Since the VVD is currently the largest party in the coalition, and since our prime-minister comes from the VVD, there’s a big chance that the proposal our minister of economic affairs is working on will be influenced heavily by Schaart’s proposal. Unbelievable.
This battle isn’t over, and it would seem that the carriers have their pawn at the very centre of power. Well played, well played.