The Netherlands Approves Net Neutrality Law

The Netherlands is the first country in Europe to pass a net neutrality law (thanks to Michael Chandra for multiple tips on this story). The Dutch Senate adopted the net neutrality provisions in a new Telecom Law that was approved on Tuesday night. Those changes to the law were approved unanimously, according to the Senate.

The law will prevent telecoms from blocking traffic or throttling services such as Skype or WhatsApp (a popular Internet SMS service) and prevents them from charging specific or extra charges for their Internet services dependent on the services used by the subscriber. Service providers can throttle traffic under the law, but only to solve congestion problems or to "protect the network." They can do this only if they treat all traffic of the same type equally.

One notable exception was included in the bill, which lawmakers are calling a mistake that will be rectified in a vote later this month. A religious exception was included in the law that allows Internet users to request an ISP filter their Internet traffic by blocking certain services and applications based on ideological grounds. The exception was added to the bill last year when the Dutch Labor Party "accidentally voted in favor of an amendment proposed by the Reformed Political Party (SGP)," according to Senator Han Noten of the Labor Party (PvdA). Many Dutch politicians see the exception as something that could be used to censor the Internet and want it removed.

A new amendment will nullify the religious exception clause as part of an unrelated law concerning traffic regulation, according to Noten. The Senate is set to vote on the traffic law and the "repair amendment" on May 15. Noten expects the traffic law to pass and the exception to be dealt with.

The Christian Union (CU) wants to maintain the religious filtering exception and filed a motion in the Senate asking the government to keep it intact. The Senate will also vote on this motion on May 15.

Source: PC World

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