Content neutrality more important than net neutrality, panel hears
While net neutrality prevents data discrimination by internet service providers, content neutrality prevents discrimination of various contents on a certain platform.
According to Žiga Turk, a former minister, platforms such as Facebook are increasingly picking the contents that people will see.
"A sports video must be equally accessible to users as a science video, and videos by politicians from opposing political poles must be treated equally," Turk, a professor at the Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, said on Wednesday.
But in practice this is not the case. Platforms decide to a large extent which contents will be highlighted and which will not reach users, he noted.
He gave Facebook as an example of a platform where users only see 10% of the contents published by their friends and the pages they follow and Facebook decides which 10% that will be.
He therefore believes content neutrality is even more problematic than net neutrality. "The fact that a certain company sets the information diet for three billion people in a biased way affects society much more than unequal treatment of Netflix and Youtube," Turk said.
He also pointed to the issue of fake news, saying that some people believe platforms should fight fake news but the problem is that opinions differ on what fake news is.
"Giving platforms the power to decide what is news and what is fake news is at least as dangerous as having a truth ministry," Turk said.
The main problem in regulating this field is that there is no reliable data on platforms' neutrality, he stressed. So before any laws can be adopted to guarantee neutrality, regulators or scientists must be given access to these data.
Katja Kmet of the Agency for Communication Networks and Services said that regulators had no power to regulate content of platforms. She is hoping for a solution that would not cause too much regulation or leave the field unregulated.
Nikola Ognenovski of the Macedonian telco agreed that caution is needed. "Too much regulation can harm investment, innovativeness and consumers' needs," he said.
The conference, featuring more than 100 experts from 25 countries, today focuses on cyber security, digital economy and data security.
The first day was all about digital skills and life-long learning in data-drive economies, internet neutrality, and digital rights and obligations.