EU outlines stiff new net neutrality rules

Meanwhile, a court battle over net neutrality is ongoing in the United States

net neutrality
Graham Boykins (CC BY 2.0)

An EU regulatory group Tuesday imposed tough new rules on European ISPs, in a move that advocates for net neutrality are hailing as a great victory.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications published a 45-page report that essentially bans paid prioritization of network traffic, and imposes strict requirements on any specialized services that ISPs want to offer.

MORE: Net Neutrality may be unenforceable – here’s why

ISPs, the new rules say, “should treat all traffic equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender or receiver, content, application or service, or terminal equipment.” Quality of service measures are allowed, according to the EU, but those measures have to be “transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate,” as well as being targeted strictly towards technical service quality, and not commercial gain.

The new rules also include provisions that mandate accurate upload and download speeds in marketing materials, place strict limits on the use of zero-rating, and much more.

The move was applauded by pro-net neutrality groups in the U.S. The New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute said in a statement that EU regulators made the right decision.

“BEREC was under intense pressure from ISPs to enact weak, loophole-ridden rules, but today’s guidance shows that BEREC resisted that pressure,” said Joshua Stager, the OTI’s policy counsel.

Net neutrality, needless to say, is deeply unpopular with ISPs both in Europe and in the U.S., and a court battle over the 2015 decision by the FCC to start regulating such companies as telecommunications providers is ongoing. But the momentum appears to be with regulators, as U.S. telecoms have lost most of the major courtroom battles so far. Even this week, T-Mobile and Sprint have been getting grief over so-called unlimited data plans that really aren’t, but are constructed in such a way as to adhere to regulations.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.