Originally published: June 22, 2011
Last updated: June 23, 2011 - 7:45am
The Netherlands became the first country in Europe, and only the second in the world, to enshrine the concept of network neutrality into national law by banning its mobile telephone operators from blocking or charging consumers extra for using Internet-based communications services like Skype or WhatsApp, a free text service.
The measure, which was adopted with a broad majority in the lower house of the Dutch Parliament, the Tweede Kamer, will prevent KPN, the Dutch telecommunications market leader, and the Dutch units of Vodafone and T-Mobile, from blocking or charging for Internet services. Its sponsors said that the measure would pass a pro-forma review in the Dutch Senate without hitches. Analysts said that the legal restrictions imposed in the Netherlands could shape Europe’s broader, evolving debate over network neutrality, pushing more countries on the Continent to limit operators from acting as self-appointed toll collectors of the mobile Internet.