As European lawmakers debate how to keep access to the Internet free and equal — so-called network neutrality — they are inundated, not unsurprisingly, by lobbyists.
But the corporate envoys roaming the halls of Brussels trying to make their case, more often than not, do not represent the Continent’s myriad telecommunications and Internet companies, but rather those from the United States. Europe has become the world’s technology regulator. So the AT&Ts and Verizons are pitted against the Googles and Yahoos to shape European law in the hopes that American regulators will follow suit.
“The U.S. companies see the outcome of the fight in Europe as key,” said Jeremie Zimmermann, a lobbyist for La Quadrature du Net, an Internet advocacy group based in Paris. “Each side is hoping to score points on the issue here so they can take it back to the States to influence the outcome there.”