Net Neutrality Policies

While at the beginning of April 2014 the European Parliament adopted strong net neutrality provisions, on 14 November 2014 the Italian Presidency presented amendments to the Telecommunications package. These documents show that the Italian Presidency is watering down the net neutrality protections. At the same time, US President Barack Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt net neutrality rules.

The table looks at the current legislation in European countries on Net Neutrality or government position on net neutrality.

CountryLegislation/Policies of Net NeutralitySpecific law text on Net NeutralityEnglish Translation or short summary of the provisions

Government position on Net Neutrality

AustriaYesNo (there is no text law)BEREC GuidelinesNo official position, press statements are ambivalent.
BulgariaYes.

Art. 225, 227 and Art. 236a of Electronic Communications Act.

Parliament adopted Decision No 149 of 11 March 2015 for the adoption of Updated policy in the field of electronic communications in the Republic of Bulgaria 2015 – 2018. According to the policy, for the period 2015 – 2018, one of the main priorities includes ensuring network neutrality. The policy provides a definition of network neutrality and suggests that the rules of the Gambling Act need to be reviewed in light of this priority of state policy.

Art. 225: Providers of public electronic communication services follow the principles of transparency and equity in relation to type of technology, category of the end-user, traffic rate or payment method and do not privilege specific end-users or groups of end-users in terms of identical services.

Art. 227:
The general conditions of the end-user agreement shall contain at least the types, description and quality of services, including the minimum service quality levels offered, i.e. the time for the initial connection and, where appropriate, other QoS parameters, as defined by the Communications Regulation Commission under Article 236a.

Art. 236a
The Communication Regulation Commission may set minimum quality of service requirements for the undertakings providing public electronic communications networks in order to prevent the deterioration of service and the hindering or slowing down of traffic over networks.

The government’s position on net neutrality is that it would work towards finding a balance between keeping the open nature and architecture of the Internet and guaranteeing the fundamental rights of consumers.
Czech RepublicYes

Law No. 127/2005 (Electronic Communications Act)

 

Policy document - “Digital Czech Republic 2.0” (March 2013) 

The law ensures full net neutrality. Exceptions are possible in case 1) of a subpoena or other compulsory request from a law-enforcement agency or a court.  2) of prevention of emergency situations and extraordinary network overload.

A supervision and control functions are carried out by the Czech Telecommunication Office

At the EU level, the government of the Czech Republic will promote net neutrality in such a way as to ensure the competitiveness of the European ICT industry and prevent any development that could put the European ICT industry at a disadvantage vis-à-vis other regions of the world.
FranceOngoing consultation and discussion on digital bill

 

 

 

The president of the ARCEP (Authority regulating electronic and postal communication) was heard by the Review Commission on “rights and freedoms of the digital age” of the National Assembly on the issue of net neutrality.

Despite the European Parliament’s vote on net neutrality, the French government seems to back the interest of telecom operators on NN.

 

GermanyYes

In addition to § 41a TKG, a new law, “Gesetz zur Auswahl und zum Anschluss von Telekommunikationsendgeräten“ (Act on the selection and connection of telecommunication terminals), entered into force on 1 August 2016.

The goal of the act is to liberalise the market for terminals as mentioned in directive 2008/63/EC (in particular router). An open and competitive market can strengthen net neutrality: As telecommunication providers could use software on their own routers to block certain services, a free market will limit the effect of such software on net neutrality.

The Federal government is allowed to enforce – with the agreement of the Parliament - net neutrality by issuing legal decrees against companies that operate telecommunication networks.

The Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) may provide a technical directive on the minimum requirements for the quality of service.
ISPs shall be forced to offer a free and fast internet for everybody; however, additional “data highways” can be set up for special services. (Position in the European Council)
Italy

There is not an Italian Law on NN. But a draft bill on NN is waiting to be discussed  by the Parliament since 2011. Elements of NN are contained in the Italian Code of Electronic Communication. The Italian Law establishes the rights for citizens to know if the operators enact some forms of restrictions in providing the service. Auditions at the Parliament on net neutrality of the Data protection adviser, of AGCOM Adviser and of the Competition Authority are taking place.

The Committee on Transport of the Chamber of Deputies started the deliberative process on a proposal of Law on net-neutrality, presented by Stefano Quintarelli (Democratic Pary) and signed by MPs of various political forces, titled “Disposizioni in materia di fornitura di servizi della rete internet per la tutela della concorrenza e della libertà di accesso degli utenti” on July 8, 2014. The work of the Commission on the proposal started on May 6, 2015; further sessions took place on June 23 2015; on September 15, 2015, on November 4 and November 24, 2015. The Law is composed by four articles. The proposal establishes the principle of net neutrality and introduces measures for a separation between the services for accessing the Internet and other services provided by the same operators. Another proposal is under discussion both at the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, concerning an amendment to the Italian Constitution introducing the article 34bis on the universal right to internet access. See the track of the proposal, here.

None 

During the months of November 2014 the Italian Presidency tried to find an agreement with the other members of the Council on the telecoms package and NN. In the draft documents circulated before the Council of November 27th  the words “net neutrality” have been removed, in spite of the fact that Italy supports NN.

In the document proposed by Italy at the European Council of November 27th  2014 – page. 3 it is reaffirmed “a vision of internet as single, open, neutral, free, unfragmented network, subject to the same laws that apply offline, where individuals can benefit from their rights, and from judicial remedies when those right are infringed”. Taking into account the positions of the various members of the Council, Italy in its Declaration to the Council stressed the need to continue to work on roaming and NN in order to find an agreement. The Government reaffirmed the fact that NN represents a first reference value. It also reaffirmed that a  free, open and not discriminatory web requires an adequate regulation and the need to the involvement of public bodies in the agreement among telecoms on this aspects. In this context, the Italian Government reaffirmed the centrality of the right of users to an adequate access to the web. An adequate access to the Internet has to be considered as a fundamental right and as an essential common. See the following links:

http://www.corrierecomunicazioni.it/tlc/31262_pacchetto-kroes-fumata-nera-ma-oettinger-rassicura-troveremo-l-accordo.htm ; http://download.repubblica.it/pdf/2014/tecnologia/dichiarazione_governo_italiano_consiglio_ue_tlc.pdf

http://www.corrierecomunicazioni.it/tlc/31247_pacchetto-kroes-giacomelli-serve-un-assunzione-di-responsabilita-politica.htm

http://www.corrierecomunicazioni.it/upload/images/11_2014/141127163926.pdf

 

The Under Secretary of State Mr Giacomelli set up an expert group in order to provide an advice on the Open Internet Order of the US Federal Communication Commission. The analysis of the Group will be used by Mr Giacomelli  in defining the proposal to the EU Council on net neutrality, with the aim to promote the convergence between  UE and USA. The Group stressed the importance to guarantee a free and open access to the web. The Group stressed also the importance to avoid that the OTT will play a gate-keeper role in the net.

More information is available in Italian here and here. The link to the Group of experts document is available here.

MaltaNo--Malta Communications Authority Action Plan 2013 claim to embark on the development of a NN policy. (2014 Action references NN only in relation to contribution to Pan-European Initiatives).
Netherlands

Yes of the Senate of the States General.

The Dutch Department of Economic Affairs issued guidelines on net neutrality for the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). These Net Neutrality Guidelines serve as a basis for the enforcement by ACM of the net neutrality rules in Article 7.4a of the Dutch Telecommunications Act (Net Neutrality Act).

The Dutch parliament has approved a proposal from the government to prohibit online price discrimination (“zero rating”). The Netherlands’ vote is in accordance with the country’s history of upholding strong net neutrality law, including the prohibition of zero rating.

Article 7.4a of Telecommunications Act

(the English version is available here)

In addition to the net neutrality provisions, the law contains language that restricts when ISPs can wiretap their users, and limits the circumstances under which ISPs can cut off a subscriber's Internet access altogether.

A summary is available here and an informal translation here.

Netherlands continues to support a harmonized telecommunications market and will therefore continue to call for further harmonization of end-user protection, abolishing roaming charges (focus on roam like at home) and realizing net neutrality at European level. Precisely these elements from the regulation internal telecoms market are still being negotiated.

Source: Progress report on the vision of telecommunication, media and internet, sent to the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede kamer) on behalf of the Minister of Economic Affairs, The Minister of Security and Justice and the state secretary of Education, Culture and Science.

RomaniaNo--

No official position from the Government.
The Telecom regulator (ANCOM) focuses on transparency measures (in the Emergency Ordinance no. 111/2011 on electronic communications -consolidated text including 2014 modifications) and minimum quality for the Internet access service.

SpainTelecommunications General Law, May 10 2014Article 50p.p. the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, minimum quality services requisites will be established … to avoid service degradation and network traffic obstruction or deceleration.

Ambivalent speech, the government proposes protection against “discrimination” but suggests the creation of  different “quality” services.

See document submitted to the EU here.

SwitzerlandNoNot applicableNot applicable

A Federal Government multi-stakeholder working group was established in October 2013 to look closely into net neutrality issues. The working group released its report in October 2014, providing an overview of net neutrality positions.

The government has proposed in the context of a planned partial revision of the telecommunications law to add some transparency rules, but not rules on the conduct of telecom companies that would force them to adhere to net neutrality principles.
 

United KingdomRegulation (EU) 2015/2120 Of The European Parliament And Of The CouncilAllApplies to telecom operatorsTo continue to comply with EU Net Neutrality rules and the BEREC guidelines, whilst the UK remains in the EU.  However, the UK may consider a lighter touch approach after leaving the EU.

 

Last updated on 19 May 2017.

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Link - Posted on Friday 19 September 2014

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