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From the people who brought you legal marijuana, freaky sex clubs and pickled herring comes the craziest thing yet.
Of course, I’m talking about the net neutrality law that just passed through Dutch parliament.
Get your mind out of the gutter.
The new law will make it illegal for telecommunications companies to charge their clients extra for using high-bandwidth services like Skype.
The concept behind net neutrality is that all data — whether e-mail, web pages or video — must be treated equally, regardless of the program being used. In practice, this means telecomms cannot charge extra for data used by independent services like VoIP or games.
Actually, that makes a lot of sense. Maybe these guys are on to something.
Net neutrality has been a hotly debated subject in recent years, with some ISPs charging exorbitant prices for non-affiliated services. Critics fear that such practices will lead to a “two-tiered” internet, in which independent content and services are rendered prohibitively slow or expensive. Without net neutrality, companies could prioritize bandwidth for preferred content, while slowing access to competitors’ services on their network. This kind of preferential treatment is the antithesis of a free and open internet, and it positively reeks of monopolistic practice.
I only know two things about monopoly: first, the top hat always wins. And second, it never ends well for the consumer.
Dutch telecomms universally decried the decision, saying “first you choose a totally obnoxious orange for the national soccer team and now this.”
The new law sets an important precedent towards preserving a fair and equal internet, as outlined in APC’s Internet Rights Charter.
Photo by Steve Rhodes. Used with permission under Creative Commons License 2.0