Those interested in telecommunications regulation and, particularly, in questions related to net neutrality have already heard it – the Netherlands has become the first country in Europe to introduce the concept of network neutrality into its national law.
Has it really?
Well, last week Kees Verhoeven from Democrats 66 (D66), Martijn van Dam from the Labour Party (PvdA), Sharon Gesthuizen from the Socialist party (SP) and Bruno Braakhuis from the GreenLeft (GroenLinks)
Lodged A Bill
to enshrine net neutrality with the House of Representatives of the Netherlands (the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament). Here is a link to the original document (in Dutch) and a fair translation of it in English.
According to Daphne van der Kroft from the Dutch civil rights platform Bits of Freedom
The Second Chamber (parliament) has accepted the bill with an impressively broad majority. Now the bill will go to the senate before entering into force. Because of the majority in parliament, we expect the Senate to pass it too. But we’ll have to wait ’till the end of the year to be sure.
That, to be precise, somehow invalidates the widely celebrated media headlines of the “Dutch enactment” of net neutrality, but – as Daphne writes – the chances, for it to happen, are good.
We are likely to have the final result in a year or so.
Now let us have a closer look at the bill!
Systematically, the applicants have chosen the section
End Users Interests
which is dealt with in Article 7 of the Telecommunications Act to introduce the net neutrality bill.
The bill basically provides that ISP may hinder or slow down end users’ traffic only in the very limited cases described in Article 7.4a (1) a. to d.
A further interesting provision is contained in Article 7.4a (2) – ISP must not shut off end users’ networks from the Internet, if such networks may be considered detrimental (e.g. botnets), unless ISP have given the operators of the affected networks the possibility to rectify the faults in those networks.
The most commented provision, however, is to be found in Article 7.4a (3) – the one that prevents ISP from charging prices that might bar end users from accessing specific services or applications on the Internet.
The applicants stress that this still allows for the charging of different prices for different types of bandwidth, but it nevertheless must not result in overpricing the use of, say, Skype so that no one would consider using it.
Article 7.4a (5) foresees the introduction of minimum requirements regarding the quality of service of public electronic communication services in order to safeguard the above provisions.
Finally and for the sake of completeness, Article 7.4a (4) reflects the recent trend in Dutch legislation to delegate the creation of detailed rules and regulations to administrative bodies.
In my view the beginning to a Europe wide legislation on net neutrality has been made.
Consumers from other member states will very likely create pressure upon their political leadership to follow the Dutch example.
How long could politicians refrain from adopting net neutrality legislation, if their voters start to sing
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
What do you think?