The Dutch example

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

1 June 2012

Holland has just taken the crown that Spain could have secured less than two years ago, namely that of being the first EU country to guarantee net neutrality by law, something that is essential for a modern economy.

On May 8 Holland became the first country in the EU to guarantee the neutrality of the web by law. It joins Chile, which drew up a similar law in August of 2010 and finally passed it in the month of March. 

In both countries Internet access providers will not be able to block, interfere or hinder the right of users to use or offer Internet services and content, nor will they be able to prioritize contents, services or applications. Furthermore they will not be able to hamper the quality of contracted service by means of traffic management measures, except in truly exceptional cases and only then using transparent criteria. Basically they will be blind with regard to the traffic they transport, and will therefore have to treat it all in the same way. This is a law which protects consumers – it includes ant-monitoring provisions to guarantee privacy and makes it illegal to use techniques like deep packet inspection (DPI) without a specific court order - and, above all, which places value on the true importance of the Net.

Neutrality of the Internet is essential for a modern country with clear priorities. Spain could be a pioneer in Europe in this regard. On December 1, 2010, after a difficult struggle with the operators’ lobby, the Spanish Senate unanimously approved the proposal to urge the government to guarantee, by law, the principle of Net neutrality. The operators’ lobby has, however, managed to ensure that the Senate’s unanimous and “urgent” petition has been left gathering dust on a shelf somewhere while those responsible in government change names (and even color). This is a shame, and begs the question who is really governing the country?

Is the example set by a forward-looking Holland that understands the key role Internet will play in the future enough to make our government wake up and smell … the tulips?
 

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