French telecom regulator calls for neutrality of devices
The Authority for Regulation of the Electronic Communications and Postal Sectors (ARCEP) in France has published a report on ‘Open Internet and devices’, arguing that net neutrality is not enough to ensure an open Internet, and that attention should also be paid to ‘other intermediaries [that] have the power to hamper users’ ability to access the online content and services of their choice’. ARCEP particularly refers to devices such as smartphones and tablets which ‘provide users with only limited Internet access’, as they impose restrictions as to operating systems, applications, and other services and content that individuals can use or access. The authority makes several proposals for how policymakers could address these issues: clarifying the scope of the open Internet by enshrining the principle of users’ freedom to choose their content and applications, regardless of the device; employing data-driven regulation; increasing the freedom of users to switch from one environment to another; lifting certain restrictions that device producers impose artificially on users, and on content and service developers; etc. The report also contains several recommendations for market players, such as allowing users to delete pre-installed apps, enabling alternative rankings of the online content and services available on app stores, and allowing users easy access to the applications offered on alternative app stores.