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EU court says zero-rated data offers violate net neutrality

Tuesday 15 September 2020 | 13:48 CET | News

Zero-rated data offers allowing continued use of specific applications or services after a data bundle is depleted infringe the EU's net neutrality regulations, the EU Court of Justice has found. In its first ruling on net neutrality, the court said distinguishing between different types of internet traffic for purely commercial reasons was a violation of the regulation. 

The ruling was given in a case brought by Telenor Hungary against the local communications regulator NMHH, appealing a decision from 2017 that found the operator violated net neutrality rules. The court's interpretation of the net neutrality regulation is in line with the guidelines issued by Berec to national telecom regulators on interpreting zero-rated data offers. 

The EU regulation of 2015 imposes a general obligation on internet service providers of equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic. The court found that obligation would be violated if operators blocked or slowed down traffic based on commercial considerations, rather than "objectively different technical quality of service requirements for specific categories of traffic". 

Furthermore, zero-rated data offers, if they grew in scale, could limit user rights to access any internet content, regardless of its origin. Offering unlimited data for the continued use of certain apps or services, even after the paid data bundle was used up, was likely to increase the use of those apps and reduce the use of other services. Over the long term, this could eventually limit or undermine internet users' rights to access the content they wish, the court said. 



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Categories: Mobile & Wireless
Companies: Berec / Telenor Hungary
Countries: Europe
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