Monday

19th Nov 2018

Focus

Latvia wants bigger fines for internet violators

  • If a Latvian internet provider breaks the rules on net neutrality, it can currently only be fined €14,000 or less (Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns)

The Latvian parliament is working on a draft law that will allow its telecoms regulator to hand out bigger fines to companies which violate EU rules on open internet.

“The regulator argues that in certain situations it is easier and cheaper for the offending party to pay the penalty than refrain from the violation,” Latvian right-wing MP Gaidis Berzins told EUobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Some 62 percent of Latvian internet users go online via a smartphone - far below the EU average of 79 percent (Photo: Alexander Lyubavin)

In 2015, EU states agreed to uphold the principle of net neutrality, which says that internet providers are not allowed to slow down access to a website to give another website a competitive advantage.

The EU regulation adopted then said national governments should update their laws and lay down “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” penalties.

An investigation by this website published last week, showed that fines differed greatly between EU member states.

In Latvia, a company can be fined between €200 and €14,000 if caught violating net neutrality.

This website asked Berzins for a comment. He did not immediately reply, but wrote an email on Tuesday (11 July), explaining the €14,000 fine is the maximum allowed under the current law.

The MP said that Latvia's Public Utilities Commission, which is the responsible enforcement agency in the Baltic state, believed the penalty was “neither dissuasive nor effective” and had asked parliament to intervene.

“According to the regulator, the maximum penalty is not sufficient to prevent electronic communications service providers from committing offences,” said Berzins, a former justice minister.

The Latvian parliament, or Saeima, is working on a draft law to amend the penalty provision, allowing the enforcement agency to give a penalty that is “proportional to the offender’s net turnover in the relevant reporting year”.

A percentage of a company's turnover is also the approach taken in EU member states like Belgium, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, and the UK.

The Czech Republic is another country that has a fixed figure - a maximum fine of 10 million koruna, or €380,000 - but is also adapting the law, to have the ability to fine up to 5 percent of annual revenue.

MP Berzins said the Saeima's legal affairs committee will continue to work on this draft law after the summer break.

According to figures from Eurostat, just over 75 percent of Latvians regularly use the Internet, with only 62 percent of internet users going online with a smartphone.

Investigation

Fines on open internet vary greatly in EU

The fine for violating the EU principle of net neutrality is €9,600 in Estonia, while it can be up to €1 million in Bulgaria, Luxembourg, and Belgium.

Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation

National governments secured a one-year extension for publishing plans to make radio frequencies available for mobile communications - but some were nevertheless unable to meet the deadline.

Exclusive

EU official proposed covering up wifi portal flaw

Director of Electronic Communications Networks and Services Anthony Whelan says in an internal document that he wanted to eliminate "possible criticisms" and "marginalise questions".

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us