Sunday

29th May 2022

Netherlands first EU country to enshrine net neutrality into law

  • Verhagen: 'This measure guarantees a completely free Internet which both citizens and the providers of the online services can then rely on' (Photo: Rupert Ganzer)

The Netherlands on Wednesday (22 June) became the first EU member state to enshrine in law the concept of net neutrality, the idea that there should be no hierarchy of information or services in the internet.

The measure, passed by a large majority in the lower house and expected to pass without hitch through the senate, will prevent Dutch mobile telephone operators from blocking or charging consumers more for using internet-based communications services.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It will also prevent Dutch telecommunications company KPN as well as the Dutch arms of Vodafone and T-Mobile from blocking or charging for internet services such as Skype

"The blocking of services or the imposition of a levy is a brake on innovation," deputy prime minister Maxime Verhagen said, according to the New York Times.

"That's not good for the economy. This measure guarantees a completely free Internet which both citizens and the providers of the online services can then rely on."

Net neutrality is one of the hottest global regulatory issues around. Internet service providers argue they need to be allowed to charge premiums for some services, such as the video-sharing website YouTube, which they say congest the networks.

Digital activists meanwhile say that data on the information highway needs to be treated without discrimination regardless of their nature or source, otherwise a hierarchy will be introduced whereby some information is only available to those who can pay.

The European consumers group, Beuc, welcomed the "landmark" initiative.

"Contrary to the EU Telecoms Package and the UK approach, where transparency of traffic management is the tiny step taken, this Dutch law safeguards consumers' right to have access to the content, service and applications of their choice," said the group's Monique Goyens.

The telecommunications industry immediately warned that the law may put operators off from making investments in high-speed net infrastructure, for fear of not recouping their money.

The Dutch law is the first such in the EU and second globally. Chile has also written net neutrality into its telecommunications law that came into effect in May.

So far the EU has indicated it will not introduce legislation to protect net neutrality. In April, digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said she would leave it to the markets to self-regulate.

Her report on the issue said that traffic management on the Internet "is necessary to ensure the smooth flow of internet traffic, particularly at times when networks become congested, and so guarantee a consistent good quality of service."

However, she would not hesitate to come up with "more stringent measures" if Brussels deems that internet service providers go too far in their "traffic management" measures.

MEPs back net neutrality law

MEPs have backed open access to the Internet by tightening plans by the European Commission on net neutrality.

Brussels to table net neutrality rules in July

The European Commission will table 'net neutrality' rules to prevent internet providers blocking access to rival sites within weeks, the bloc's digital agenda chief said Tuesday.

EU to slap ban on online blocking

The EU will ban Internet service providers from manipulating and blocking access to certain websites, according to a Commission official.

France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said on Tuesday that Poland's recovery plan could be approved within a week. This could also help unblock Warsaw's reluctance to agree to the tax deal.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us