Netherlands – first country in Europe with net neutrality

By EDRi · May 9, 2012

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Deutsch: [Niederlande schreiben als erstes Land Netzneutralität vor |]

On 8 May 2012, The Netherlands adopted crucial legislation to safeguard
an open and secure internet. It is the first country in Europe to
implement net neutrality into its national law. In addition,
it adopted provisions protecting users against disconnection and
wiretapping by providers. Digital rights movement Bits of Freedom
calls on other countries to follow the Dutch example.

The net neutrality law prohibits internet providers from interfering
with the traffic of their users. The law allows for traffic management
in case of congestion and for network security, as long as these
measures serve the interests of the internet user. A technical error
in the law might still be corrected in a vote on 15 May.

In addition, the law includes an anti-wiretapping provision,
restricting internet providers from using invasive wiretapping
technologies, such as deep packet inspection (DPI). They may only do
so under limited circumstances, or with explicit consent of the user,
which the user may withdraw at any time. The use of DPI gained much
attention when KPN admitted that it had analysed the traffic of its
users to gather information on the use of certain apps. The law allows
for wiretapping with a warrant.

Moreover, the law includes a provision ensuring that internet
providers can only disconnect their users in a very limited set of
circumstances. Internet access is very important for functioning in an
information society, and, presently, providers can, on the basis of
their terms and conditions, disconnect their users for numerous
reasons. The provision allows for the disconnection in the case of
fraud or when a user doesn’t pay his bills.

Bits of Freedom, the Dutch digital rights movement which has campaigned
for these provisions, applauds the new law. It considers this a
historical moment for internet freedom in The Netherlands and calls on
other countries to follow the Dutch example.

The provisions are part of the implementation of the European
telecommunications rules. A translation of the provisions is provided
by Bits of Freedom. The translation does not include the technical
error in the law which might be corrected on 15 May.

Netherlands first country in Europe with net neutrality (8.05.2012)

Translations of the Key Dutch Internet Freedom Provisions

(Contribution by Ot van Daalen – EDRi-member Bits of Freedom – Netherlands)