Monday, 2 January 2012

No neutrality on net neutrality among the Ministers

In June last year we reported about the Dutch parliament adopting laws on net neutrality, i.e. stopping mobile phone operators from blocking or charging extra for voice calling done via the internet (Cookies opt-in and net neutrality law - pro-consumer Dutch approach). As we mentioned, this was a novelty on a European level since the European Commission adopted a 'wait and see' policy as far as infringements of net neutrality are concerned.

Interestingly enough, in December 2011, the European Council of Ministers has called for the principle of net neutrality to become law, which is supposed to make the European Commission take specific acts in this regard ("The European Council: underlines... the need to preserve the open and neutral character of the Internet and consider net neutrality as a policy objective" see: Council conclusions on the open internet and net neutrality in Europe). This aim should be strengthened by the report that the European Commission had prepared by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (Berec) which showed that such infringements happen in practice (BEREC report on the public consultation on the draft BEREC Guidelines on Transparency in the scope of Net Neutrality). For example, in some Member States certain internet service providers (ISP) are blocking programs, like Skype, or unfairly prioritise their own content. The response of the ISPs' representatives is that such traffic limitations are necessary in order to guarantee proper service of the networks. While it might be true from the technological point of view that such limitations make provision of the internet services easier, it should not lead to discrimination against less expensive for consumers services (like VOIP). Hopefully, in 2012 the European Commission will take action leading to enacting of either a directive or a regulation on net neutrality.

See also: Pressure for EU net neutrality rules

How does net neutrality work?

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