Last week, the Dutch parliament approved a proposal from the government that prohibits zero rating. The vote is in accordance with the country’s history of upholding strong net neutrality law. What was the proposal exactly?
The European rules on net neutrality are described in a regulation with a looooong title. Such a regulation is a legal act that becomes immediately enforceable as law in all member states simultaneously. It doesn’t require transposition into national legislation in the same way as a directive does. The net neutrality regulation, however, does require some changes in national law. For example, the national legislator has to designate a national authority for enforcing the rules. In the Netherlands, this is done in the Telecommunicatiewet.
Without a doubt, the most interesting bit of the Dutch implementation is the explicit banning of zero rating, the practice where telecom operators do not charge end customers for data used by specific applications or internet services. In addition to that, the Minister of Economic Affairs must establish binding rules regarding traffic management in the case of impending network congestion and specialised services. He may also establish other rules explaining how the net neutrality regulation should be interpreted.
Without further ado, here’s the translation:
By ministerial decree, or acts delegated thereby, in order to prevent a deterioration of services and a hindrance or delay of the traffic on public electronic communication networks, minimum requirements for providers of electronic communication networks to the public may be established regarding the quality of public electronic communications services.
By ministerial decree, or acts delegated thereby, in order to implement the net neutrality regulation, rules shall be established for providers of public communications networks or publicly available electronic communications services, including providers of internet access services. These rules will in any case address:
the prevention of imminent network congestion and the limitation of the effects of extraordinary or temporary network congestion as defined in Article 3(3)(c) of the net neutrality regulation.
other services as defined in Article 3(5) of the net neutrality regulation.
Providers of internet access services shall not make the height of rates dependent on the services and applications which are offered or used through this service.
The decree required under the second paragraph of this Article shall be passed no sooner than four weeks after the draft has been submitted to both Chambers of Parliament.
The translation of article 7.4a Telecommunicatiewet was kindly provided by Paddy Leerssen (AKVorrat in Austria).