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Netherlands passes net neutrality law

Dutch lawmakers on Wednesday passed a network neutrality [JURIST news archive] law, which prohibits mobile operators from blocking or charging consumers fees for using Internet-based communication services. The law, passed by the Dutch Parliament's lower house, the Tweede Kamer [official website, in Dutch], will prevent operators including KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile [corporate websites] from imposing extra fees for free services like Skype. The Netherlands is the second country to enact a network neutrality law [NYT report]. Consumer advocates praised the legislation, comparing network neutrality to freedom of speech and press, and indicating that the law sets a positive precedent for other nations. Opponents of the law argue that the restrictions will deter investment and innovation, and possibly lead to higher prices for basic Internet service. Patrick Nickolson, a spokesman for KPN, expressed concern that the Dutch Parliament, which adopted the law after just two months of deliberation, did not spend more time discussing the implications of the new law.

Chile became the first country to implement network neutrality laws when the Chilean Parliament passed the laws in July 2010. In April, the US House of Representatives voted to overturn regulations [JURIST report] aimed at preserving the Internet as a free and open platform of communication after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] approved the regulations last year [JURIST report], which prevent Internet providers from selectively blocking web access. Just days before, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] granted a motion by the FCC to dismiss [JURIST report] a challenge to the new net neutrality rules. The court dismissed the appeal for improper timing because the challenged rulemaking document has yet to be published in the Federal Register [official website]. The challenges were filed by Verizon and MetroPCS [JURIST reports] in January out of concern over the broad authority the regulations would grant to the FCC. A previous court ruling found that the FCC lacks the power to enforce net neutrality [JURIST report]. Net neutrality is thought by supporters to be essential to the goal of an open flow of information over the Internet regardless of the amount of revenue generated by the information.

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