Net neutrality in the Netherlands is near as dammit law: the first country in Europe

by Steve Seager

I just heard it’s now well on its way to being official: thanks to Maxime Verhagen, Dutch Foreign Minister (Economic Affairs), it’s seems the Netherlands will become the first country in Europe to have net neutrality as law.

Meaning: you won’t have to pay extra to use Skype, VoIP or even Facebook. Your ISP won’t be able to block certain sites from your mobile or laptop connection – and you will have access to a truly free internet.

If you thought a truly free internet was a given, then think again: there’s only one other country in the world – Chile – that has net neutrality as law. If you don’t know about net neutrality find out more here and sign up if you think freedom of access to information is your right. Check this video for a quick intro on net neutrality. Or this one.

Even better, just watch this video below with Tim Berners-Lee, the splendid chap who invented the world wide web.

Telcos are massively against net neutrality. Obviously. They want to filter, restrict, block or charge you extra in the face of rapidly changing and competitive business models. Their argument: “If net neutrality is prescribed by law, telecom providers can no longer apply internet restrictions. So it is no longer possible to offer discounts to consumers for whom it is appropriate. The result will be a steep rise in prices of mobile internet use for a large group of consumers, ” Vodafone said. Blatant BS.

Back to Verhagen and the Netherlands. He has been fighting against the opposition parties for quite some time for net neutrality. In particular against Afke Schaart – specialist for the VVD (US style liberal party) who was outed as a former lobbyist for KPN – the largest carrier in the Netherlands. KPN was the first to announce plans to start charging extra for for apps that competed with text and calling. Ouch.

The official vote on the amendments to the Dutch telecommunications act will take place next Tuesday, but thanks to the efforts of Verhagen, it looks like it will be a formality.

There’s many different takes on exactly what net neutrality is, and to what extent it should / shouldn’t be enforced. And how. But I’m a huge advocate. More on this, undoubtedly, later. Meanwhile, a big up for Verhagen, the Netherlands and net neutrality.

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