An end to strict net neutrality: slower faster YouTube and Netflix?




The history of net neutrality in the Netherlands began on April 21, 2011. On that day, KPN announced that it was working on a “chat levy ‘, where the extra cost would be charged for the use of chat services like WhatsApp. That idea did not sit well with the public and in politics. The latter took almost behind a proposal that, in the summer, to establish net neutrality into law.

Net neutrality is the principle that all bits and bytes on the web are the same, and thus providers should not discriminate in the transmission of Internet traffic. It is a basic principle of the Internet. The practical effect is that service providers may not block or delay. Also, the reverse is true; providers in the Netherlands must now deliver any faster connection service for A than for B simply because the service provider has a contract with A.

Meanwhile also the European politics in the process of capturing net neutrality in regulation. European politics often does not work very fast and therefore it took some time, but it was soon clear that it was not a given that the Dutch net neutrality would be maintained. Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner responsible at the time, came in 2014 with a proposal which would bring an end to the strict net neutrality in the Netherlands in favor of a weaker version.

Now the time has come; Parliament voted Tuesday in the European, weaker net neutrality. Consequently, the Netherlands will be getting a weaker version, but include Belgium will for the first time a form of net neutrality. All that appearance begins on April 30, 2016. Tweakers delved into the European rules to figure out what that will mean to us.

The adopted proposal

A European regulation does not just stand up. It is a complex process in which it is not surprising that politicians change their minds. That happened in this case also. In April 2014 voted a majority of the European Parliament for the ‘Dutch’ net neutrality; Tuesday suddenly appeared to poke the majority for the much weaker form of the proposal.

It goes like this: the European Commission, similar to the cabinet in the Netherlands, sent a proposal for a Regulation to the European Parliament, which is similar to the Dutch First and Second Chamber. If the European Parliament adopts the proposal without amendments, by the Council of Ministers is the meeting of all the relevant ministers of Member States, and then it is ready.

However, if the Parliament adopts amendments, as it did by voting for the ‘Dutch’ strict neutrality, then the amended proposal goes back to the Commission. Which will negotiate with the Council of Ministers and then sends back a proposal back to the Parliament.

European parliament

Officially, the Parliament has the final say so, but in practice that the Parliament must be agreed with the Commission and the Council of Ministers. This also explains the change of position. The strict net neutrality was not the Commission and Council support. If Parliament had rejected this proposal, the negotiations would have started again and had even longer.

The proposal itself can be read online after. It regulates net neutrality and the abolition of roaming across Europe. That is a step forward from the present situation, because net neutrality so far only the Netherlands has the force of law, but in the rest of the UK and other EU Member States do not.

The core of the regulation is Article 11 of the proposal adopted. Although the text politics sounds, it is clear what the intention is.

Traffic management measures that go beyond such reasonable traffic management because they have specific content, applications or services, or specific categories of content, applications or services to block, delay, modify, limit, it interfere, degrade or between discrimination should be prohibited, except in this Regulation contained legitimate and specified exceptions.

Providers may thus even to properly manage traffic, basically no content, applications or services restrict, block, slow down or change. That in itself is clear enough, but the devil is in the tail; there are exceptions. Now that is nothing new; in the Dutch law on net neutrality is also an exception. So may providers as the pressure is determined temporarily slow traffic. Of course providers must also heed court orders to be blocking The Pirate Bay.

“Providers may not restrict content, blocking or slowing, but there are exceptions”

One of the exceptions which adds the European regulation, the ability to block traffic as a situation of extreme danger crowds. In the Dutch legislation is that permissible only if it is already crowded. However, this should not happen often, as can be read in the regulations.

These situations can be caused for example by a technical failure, such as unavailability of the service because of broken cables or other infrastructure elements, unexpected changes in the routing of traffic or large increases in network traffic by emergencies or other situations in which providers of Internet access services have no effect . Such congestion problems will not occur frequently in all probability, but can be severe and are not necessarily short-lived

One of the most controversial terms in the regulation deals with the exception of specialist services. In addition, there are examples when government communication and M2M communication. This is controversial because many M2M communication is through regular data connections, for example 2g.

The need to examine national regulators whether and to what extent this optimization is objectively necessary to ensure one or more specific and crucial characteristics of the content, applications or services and allow end users to provide a corresponding guarantee of quality, rather than general priority indicating similar content, applications or services that are available via the Internet access service and to evade the Internet access services on the applicable provisions on traffic management measures.

In short, in the Netherlands, for example, the ACM will have a big say in what is and is not allowed. Thus, much depends on organizations like the ACM bring the actual practice of the rules and how strict net neutrality really will be.
Critical: four points

There is much criticism of the proposal. US privacy organization EFF lists four holes, “loopholes” in the law. Thus, providers treat services as ‘specialist services’, so that they fall outside the normal rules. What exactly can fall within these specialist services, however, is not defined. Moreover that the rules ‘zero rating’ not where a provider fee may decide that music via Spotify does not fire the data bundle users but through competitor Deezer well. Therefore it would be difficult for small companies to compete.

The European legislation is wider in the area of ​​network management. Providers may throttling certain Internet under Dutch law if it is very busy, with the European rules may also if they expect the pressure will be. Finally, providers may prioritize traffic on the basis of the type of traffic, so that, for example, encrypted traffic can go slower or faster network traffic from games correctly.

The website, an initiative of various organizations, has about the same criticisms. These holes were closed to be amendments, but Parliament has rejected all Tuesday.
Consequences: unknown

What is going to happen first is that the regulation force of law in the European Union. That can quickly. Unlike some other regulation from Europe, national governments do not anchor the rules in their own laws, a process where they get a few years time. Now that does not happen and so will the rules next year already.

The effects are difficult to predict. According Rejo Zenger, a researcher on privacy organization Bits of Freedom, it is expected that providers will push the limits of regulation. “We saw in the last few years with the strict net neutrality in the Netherlands, when providers in different ways tried to see how strand that was real. Now they will do it, I will do it again.”

“Who knows is a mobile carrier again thinking about” ”
” “a chat levy” Thus, for example, providers try to Netflix to provide access to a faster connection than YouTube, allowing customers to get the idea that the payment service is fast. Spotify can also benefit providers in favor of competitors like Google Play Music, Apple Music and Deezer. And who knows what a mobile carrier again consider a chat tax.

How the text of the Regulation will be interpreted exactly, is the BEREC, the umbrella organization of regulators, which the ACM belongs in the Netherlands. That also happens in each Member State, so there is still a chance that the rules will be stricter in the Netherlands than in Germany for example. In addition, judges can still speak in specifics, leaving jurisprudence arises as to how the rules must be exactly understood. But this is a process that often goes long over, because things in principle not reach senior judges.

Building ACM

Netherlands was several years ago forerunner in the area of ​​net neutrality. On the one hand it is good that net neutrality is enshrined in European legislation, so the rules apply to a much larger area, and of course it is a good thing that all of Europe recognizes that net neutrality on the Internet is a great thing.

The implementation leaves a lot of questions. Critics, of course, go out of the worst and think that firms the limits of the rules can stretch so far that it becomes possible to benefit at the expense of Netflix YouTube, or vice versa. On the other hand, it is clear that there is still much room for interpretation, for example by regulators as the ACM. So the decision of the European Parliament Tuesday is not an end, but a beginning. The net neutrality in Europe really will look like, so will remain a big question mark.


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