Another state in the USA is adopting its own net neutrality rules, as Maine Governor Janet Mills signs a net neutrality bill. According to the law, ‘a state entity may not commit state funds to an Internet service provider (ISP) unless the ISP agrees on providing net neutral services. A net neutral service means a fixed or mobile Internet service that is provided without blocking lawful content, applications, services or devices; throttling; or paid prioritisation. In a statement, Mills said that hopes ‘net neutrality will be fully restored in federal law, but in the meantime’ [...] welcomes ‘this new law as a positive step forward for Maine and as a sign that we will protect a free and open internet for Maine people’.
New Jersey’s state assembly passed three net neutrality bills. The bill A2131 would direct the state’s Board of Public Utilities to prohibit Internet service providers (ISP) from installing broadband telecommunications infrastructure on certain poles or underground facilities unless they adhere to net neutrality. The bill A2132 would prohibit awarding public contracts to ISPs, unless they adhere to the principle of net neutrality. Finally, the bill A2139 requires cable television companies to commit to net neutrality as a condition of municipal consent or system-wide franchises. Now, the bills will go to the state senate and if they are passed, they would have to be signed by Governor Phil Murphy. Murphy is in favor of net neutrality, he already signed a net neutrality executive order in 2018, and probably will sign new bills as well.
Net neutrality advocates criticise the letter asking for the creation of a net neutrality working group
It was published a letter signed by 47 Democrats in the House of Representatives asking for the chamber’s leadership’s support to form a net neutrality working group. In the letter, the lawmakers recognised that ‘Save the Internet Act’, a bill that would restore Obama-era net neutrality rules, is unlikely to become law, or pass through the Senate, in its current form. In opposition to the proposal to create a working group, more than 30 net neutrality advocacy organisations signed an open letter to Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives. According to the letter, ‘The Save the Internet Act is a common-sense bill with overwhelming bipartisan public support, and these attempts to undermine it by establishing a working group to advance disingenuous legislative efforts are strongly opposed by our organisations.’
In the European Union, net neutrality regulations has been in place since 2016. However, a group of 45 advocate organizations, companies and individuals expressed its concern about the risk to net neutrality through the use of deep packet inspection (DPI) by Internet service providers (ISPs). According to the letter sent to EU officials, the BEREC Guidelines state that traffic management based on the monitoring of domain names and URLs is not ‘reasonable traffic management’ under the regulation, but this rule has been ignored by ISPs in their treatment of traffic and some of them are using DPI for differentiated pricing, prioritisation or throttling. This letter was written in the context of the evaluation of Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and the net neutrality regulation and the guidelines.
Civil rights organisations criticize the European Commission report on the implementation of the Regulation on Open Internet Access
The European Commission published a report to evaluate the implementation of the Open Internet access regulation (Regulation (EU) 2015/2120) after two years the rules came into force. According to the report, end-users and content application providers express great satisfaction with today’s state of affairs and Internet service providers (ISPs) also support the principles of an open internet. The Commission concludes that the regulation’s principles are appropriate in light of the development of the market, that they are effective in protecting the end-user and promoting the internet as an innovation engine, and that there is no need to amend the Regulation at this stage. Therefore, 31 human and civil rights organisations sent an open letter to the European Commission and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). The letter pointed out that there are many obvious problems in the report, such as the market entry barriers for participation in the class-based zero-rating offers, particularly affecting cross-border content and application providers in the Digital Single Market, the ongoing throttling of certain applications by telecom operators, and the complete lack of dissuasive and proportionate penalty provisions by member states.
The ‘Save the Internet Act’, a bill that would restore Obama-era net neutrality rules that prohibited blocking, throttling, and paid prioritisation, was voted and approved by the US House of Representatives. As Democrats have a majority in the House, the approval was expected. However, the bill is expected to face difficulties in becoming law, since it could be blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate or vetoed by President Trump. In addition, White House staff claimed that consumers have benefited from the net neutrality repeal.
The Austria telecommunications regulatory authority (RTR) sent a request to Internet service providers (ISPs) to block 22 domains claimed to be involved in copyright infringement. T-Mobile feared the bans had the potential to violate net neutrality rules since the domains are not specifically listed in a court order and are considered ‘clone’ sites. Although the ISP has already implemented the blocking in the country, it has also written to regulators to check a potential net neutrality breach. Domain bans in the country are becoming frequent, which has raised net neutrality concerns.
The House Commerce Committee approved the ‘Save the Internet Act’, a bill that would fully reinstate the rules implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015, reversing the repeal led by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in 2017. According to The Hill, Commerce Committee Republicans tried to introduce more than a dozen amendments that would weaken the bill, such as exempting all 5G wireless services and all multi-gigabit broadband services, and preventing the FCC from limiting the types of zero-rating that ISPs can deploy. Only a Democratic amendment of an one-year exemption for ISPs with 100 000 or fewer subscribers from the transparency rules was approved by the committee. The bill will be potentially voted in the full House next week. However, it will still face long odds in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, and the opposition of President Trump.
Earlier this year, a bill that aims at protecting net neutrality in Colorado, was introduced by state Democrats. Governor Jared Polis is expected to sign this bill into law, after it was passed in the Colorado House this week. The bill disqualifies an Internet service providers (ISPs) from receiving money through a grant or any state fund established to help finance broadband deployment if the ISP engages in (a) throttling bandwidth or degrading Internet traffic; (b) paid prioritisation of Internet content, (c) establishing network ‘fast lanes,’ or (d) blocking lawful content, services, or applications and not provide reasonable transparency regarding their network management practices. According to Gizmodo, a representative for Polis told in a statement by email that the governor ‘supports the bill.’
In India, websites such as the discussion board Reddit, messaging service Telegram, and comedy site College Humor are being blocked by Internet service providers (ISPs) for intermittent periods since the beginning of 2019. The blocks are raising questions regarding the enforcement of net neutrality rules. According to the non-profit Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), blocks are happening without user notices in many cases. The IFF sent a letter to the Indian telecoms department, saying that there have been at least 250 reports of websites blocked on networks operated by main ISPs since January. It is not clear if websites are being blocked based on government or court orders, which would not violate net neutrality rules.