The Dutch claim to 'pay your own way' as a national characteristic became even stronger this week when the parliament enshrined the principle of net neutrality in law: only the second country, after Chile, to explicitly do so. By Ian Scales.
The furore which lead to the legislation was over a plan by KPN Mobile to introduce per-application charging or personalisation: effectively a money-for-nothing surcharge to the user on sites and services - such as WhatsApp and Skype - that the operator considered were competing with its own.
As we wrote last month, KPN's personalisation plans appeared to be a panic reaction to a revenue shortfall brought about by falling text and voice minute revenues.
The plans were announced and pegged to be brought in this Summer.
In response - and in response to a furore from users and rights groups - the Dutch Parliament was forced to add an amendment to the telecommunications law which was conveniently passing through at the time. The new law means ISPs and telecom operators must ensure access to all the content, services or applications available on the network.
In the event, and despite vigorous lobbying from telcos, the law has won a near unanimous vote on its first reading and is expected to pass easily in its final form next week.
So in Holland each network - and its users - must continue to pay for their own connectivity to the Internet rather than trying to use techniques like DPI-based site blocking to get others to subsidise their services. So is this going Dutch?
Net Neutrality laws are ultimately designed to ensure that toll-booths are not set up on the Internet to cut of access for various reasons - for instance, because the upstream provider like Google, say, won't pay the retail ISP a surcharge. Neutrality sets a level playing field in which each side of a data exchange on the Internet (sender or receiver) is responsible for the data journey's costs between itself and the peering point. Everyone goes Dutch, in other words. So yes. It fits perfectly.
The Dutch move is the first success the net neutrality movement has had for at least 6 months (since the FCC got into trouble with the Congress with its net neutrality rules in the US) and will be an encouragement for Internet rights activists trying to get neutrality onto the statute books in other European countries and beyond.
please sign in to rate this article