Net Neutrality Guidelines Released in the EU

Last week the EU released its net neutrality implementation guidelines – the result of over 3 weeks of debate (and years of work) on the topic. They were passed by the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC), and come after a public comment period during which time activists urged people to submit comments. The net neutrality guidelines will be applied in the EU, with national regulatory bodies responsible for implementation.

The new guidelines “tighten loopholes” and better clarify net neutrality provisions so there is less room for exploitation by telcos or providers. The rules mandate that all providers treat Internet traffic equally, and do not favor various services or connections over others. The loopholes that have been eliminated include: Internet “fast lanes” for people who pay more; “zero-rating” (certain services or apps that are “exempt from counting against monthly data limits”); and traffic management (prioritizing traffic from certain services).

The guidelines released on August 30 state the following: “…obligations to closely monitor and ensure compliance with the rules to safeguard equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic in the provision of internet access services and related end-users rights as laid down in Articles 3 and 4. These Guidelines constitute recommendations to NRAs, and NRAs should take utmost account of the Guidelines. The Guidelines should contribute to the consistent application of the Regulation, thereby contributing to regulatory certainty for stakeholders.”

Many see this as a victory for the EU, enacting much needed Open Internet principles to provide access to a free and open Internet for everyone. You can read more about the guidelines and what they mean in this Verge article.