May 8th, 2012 is a day to celebrate in The Netherlands as it becomes the first country in Europe to protect its citizens by enshrining net neutrality into law.
The Netherlands is also implementing privacy protections for users against wiretapping and disconnection by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which will no longer be able to interrupt traffic of users unless it is proven to be in the public interest.
The legislation is a landmark and an example for other countries in Europe and around the world. According to Bits of Freedom, the activist group who advocated for the law's passage, the new provisions are especially important for the privacy of netizens:
In addition, the law includes an anti-wiretapping provision, restricting internet providers from using invasive wiretapping technologies, such as deep packet inspection (DPI). They may only do so under limited circumstances, or with explicit consent of the user, which the user may withdraw at any time. The use of DPI gained much attention when KPN admitted that it analysed the traffic of its users to gather information on the use of certain apps. The law allows for wiretapping with a warrant.
Moreover, the law includes a provision ensuring that internet providers can only disconnect their users in a very limited set of circumstances. Internet access is very important for functioning in an information society, and providers currently could on the basis of their terms and conditions disconnect their users for numerous reasons. The provision allows for the disconnection in the case of fraud or when a user doesn’t pay his bills.
Applause for The Netherlands!
* While it is still a work in process, a general translation of the new law has been published by the active NGO Bits of Freedom.