Zero rating, also known as “sponsored data”, is the policy of mobile network providers and mobile virtual network providers to not charge their clients for using specific services, such as Facebook or YouTube. Zero rating is a bad idea for several reasons: You give specific services an advantage over their competitors, and push users towards using a certain service and disadvantage all others.
This is particularly dangerous in third world countries, because the markets there are still in development. It’s now come to light that in certain African and Asian countries the number of Facebook users is larger than the number of (open) internet users. Which is bad news. It increases Facebook’s ever-growing data monopoly. It’s also detrimental for these countries because it puts the mobile market under pressure: The larger mobile operators that can offer these kinds of bundles are able to easily push the competitors aside.
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.
BEREC, the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications must publish new rules on net neutrality by 30 August, which leaves them little time to process the hundreds of thousands of responses.
BEREC Guidelines on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules have been drafted. They are designed to provide guidance on the implementation of the obligations of NRAs and include the obligations to closely monitor and ensure compliance with the rules to safeguard equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic in the provision of internet access services and related end-users rights.
Canada cracks down on zero-rating while FCC in US allows paid data cap exemptions. Canada is also taking a case-by-case approach to zero-rating instead of banning it outright. But yesterday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ordered changes to one carrier's zero-rating program and announced that it will enforce stricter guidelines for determining whether zero-rating programs are discriminatory.