Upper house ratifies Dutch net neutrality law

10 May 2012

The Senate of the Netherlands on Tuesday adopted a new Telecommunications Act to put net neutrality into law, making the country the first in Europe to do so. Supporters of the new legislation say the new rules will prevent mobile internet providers such as KPN from charging for access to specific services like Skype and WhatsApp, or from throttling traffic — both techniques that it has been keen on using to manage its mobile traffic. In June 2011 the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, approved the net neutrality act. Among the many provisions contained in the law, new rules specifies that sites which use cookies must explicitly ask for user permission before setting them, and provides safeguards against user disconnection or intrusive monitoring by ISPs. The adoption of net neutrality rules follows intense debate in the country stemming from KPN’s decision to start charging for access to free online services such as WhatsApp (a text messaging service). The new law specifies that no service provider can impose fees or special terms and conditions for any internet service, nor can they determine what sites end users can visit. However, court-ordered site blocking can still take place, it said.

The only other country currently with a working net neutrality law is Chile. The South American country adopted legislation in June 2010 and the new law came into effect in May 2011.

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