Zero rating: Why it is dangerous for our rights and freedoms

By EDRi · June 22, 2016

Net neutrality is the principle that all the internet traffic is treated equally, without blocking or slowing down certain data. Net neutrality is crucial for fair competition between online services, for innovation, and for freedom of expression online.

The European Parliament has adopted a Regulation that includes provisions on net neutrality. Currently, the BEREC (the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications) is preparing the guidelines for how the Regulation should be implemented across Europe. From the citizen point of view, the guidelines need to be improved concerning zero rating.

Zero rating is a commercial practice for which data downloaded from certain applications or services is not counted towards a subscriber’s monthly download limits. At first sight, it looks as if you’d get something for free, but actually your freedom of choice is restricted!


Zero rating allows the internet access provider to influence your choice what applications and services you can and cannot use. Instead of simply selling internet access, internet providers increasingly want to sell you directly online content, applications and services provided either by them or their partners. Every competitor to a zero-rated service has a disadvantage, because you have to pay extra to be able to use their service. Zero rating only helps big companies to cement their market position and kill off their competition. Without zero rating, your internet access provider could be offering you more data volume that you could freely decide how to use.

Zero rating is a clear violation of the net neutrality rules and therefore needs to be prohibited.

To help BEREC to finalise their guidelines in a way that bans zero rating and guarantees real net neutrality, you can go to and send BEREC a message that you want them to support a free, innovative open internet. The consultation is open until 18 July.