CJEU rules ‘zero tariff’ violates open internet access regulations

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled in Cases C-854/19, C-5/20 and C-34/20 Vodafone and Telekom Deutschland that the ‘zero tariff’ practice of telecom providers is contrary to the regulation on open internet access and incompatible with EU law.

The CJEU concluded that such a practice is against the general obligation of equal treatment of traffic without discrimination or interference, as required by the regulation on open internet access (Regulation (EU) 2015/2120), since limitations on bandwidth, tethering, or on use when roaming apply only on account of the activation of the ‘zero tariff’ option by users.

This is the second time CJEU ruled on the issue of net neutrality. The CJEU ruled in September 2020 in cases C‑807/18 and C‑39/19 Telenor Magyarország Zrt. v Nemzeti Média- és Hírközlési Hatóság Elnöke deciding that Telenor’s 1GB data tariffs offering unlimited domestic data consumption for a number of social apps, and therefore restricting usage of all other apps/services, is in violation of the regulation on open internet access.