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posted by janrinok on Saturday June 18, @01:41PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the tightening-loopholes dept.

Europe cracks down on data cap exemptions in update to net neutrality rules:

European telecom regulator BEREC has updated its net neutrality guidelines to include a strict ban on zero-rating practices that exempt specific apps or categories of apps from data caps imposed by Internet service providers.

The document published Tuesday provides guidance to national regulatory authorities on their "obligations to closely monitor and ensure compliance with the rules to safeguard equal and non-discriminatory treatment of traffic in the provision of Internet access services and related end-users' rights." BEREC stands for Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications.

"Despite intense lobbying from big carriers and giant platforms, BEREC voted to clearly ban zero-rating offers that benefit select apps or categories of apps by exempting them from people's monthly data caps," Stanford Law Professor Barbara van Schewick wrote. "The ban applies whether the app pays to be included or not, closing a loophole in the draft guidelines."

[...] The new BEREC guidelines came in response to a September 2021 Court of Justice ruling that "zero tariff" options that distinguish between types of Internet traffic "on the basis of commercial considerations" violate Europe's Open Internet rules requiring "equal treatment of traffic, without discrimination or interference."

In the new guidelines, BEREC said it "considers any differentiated pricing practices which are not application-agnostic to be inadmissible for IAS [Internet access service] offers, such as applying a zero price to ISPs' own applications or CAPs [content, applications, and services] subsidizing their own data." Additionally, a "price-differentiated offer where all applications are blocked (or slowed down) once the data cap is reached except for the application(s) for which zero price or a different price than all other traffic is applied would infringe" European rules, BEREC said. The rules apply to both mobile and fixed Internet service.


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  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Saturday June 18, @02:05PM (7 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 18, @02:05PM (#1254217) Homepage Journal

    What about communication with the ISP itself that you need, for example, to pay for a higher service cap? Will it become difficult for a customer to buy the level of service he needs?

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by janrinok on Saturday June 18, @02:59PM (1 child)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 18, @02:59PM (#1254225) Journal

      I don't think that anything will change with regard to your query. All it is saying is that, for any given agreed cap that you are paying for, they cannot provide preferential service to one site (e.g. netflix) over another. You can still arrange your own cap but they cannot decide how you use it. At least that is my understanding of it.

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      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @05:11PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @05:11PM (#1254233)

        Seeing lots of spam mod abuse again, time to check the spam page and modban the violators.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Immerman on Saturday June 18, @06:12PM (3 children)

      by Immerman (3985) on Saturday June 18, @06:12PM (#1254245)

      It sounds like you basically mean visiting the ISP's web page to upgrade your plan after you've already hit the cap?

      Seems to me that would depend entirely on the nature of the cap.

      With a "soft cap" where you simply pay a higher rate for data past the cap limit it's a non-issue: you'd be racking up past-the-cap data that will be billed at a higher rate while doing that. Though if you're able to retroactively upgrade this month's plan to a higher cap then come billing time that past-the-cap data would presumably be below the new cap.

      With a hard cap, where you're simply cut off completely after hitting your cap, it could be a nuisance - but I can think of a few ways for ISPs to easily circumvent it:

      - Offer "unlimited" data past the cap at at a severely throttled speed. If they offer a minimalist payment portal even 100b/s would be adequate.

      - Alternately, (depending on the exact wording of the law) they could probably just redirect *any* attempted internet connection from a past-the-cap account to an internal-only payment portal. Since they're no longer providing you with internet access, or even access to any internet-facing services, it'd be really hard to argue that they're currently acting as your ISP and the law would probably not apply.

      - Just call them up and pay over the phone instead. Admittedly a headache for anyone who only has a VOIP service over the disabled connection... but that's a tiny minority and its on you to be preemptively responsible. If you run out of gas in the middle of your commute, you're the only one to blame for the resulting headaches. Why would you expect other things to be dramatically different?

      • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @07:51PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @07:51PM (#1254261)

        Your post reads like you work for an ISP. It's like trying to make sense of a Verizon plan scheme. Do you hate "net neutrality"?

      • (Score: 2) by quietus on Sunday June 19, @01:32PM (1 child)

        by quietus (6328) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 19, @01:32PM (#1254393) Journal

        Already implemented since the days of 56K modems, and still functioning here: if you go over your cap, your connection is simply throttled to enough kilobytes that you can still connect to your ISPs site to raise the cap for the month, but things like, say, downloading porn, would be an excruciating experience.

        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @09:23PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @09:23PM (#1254463)

          I remember those teasers. jpegs slowly loading, line by line, while you waited. And then there would be a strategically placed flowerpot or something. Bastards.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @12:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @12:44PM (#1254385)

      That's the best you can do? You're worried about the few kB of traffic between the endpoint and the ISP? Why don't you just moan about yuh freedomes, bruh?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @06:21PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @06:21PM (#1254248)

    It's kinda the same thing as giving cheaper long distance rates to specific countries

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @10:27PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @10:27PM (#1254283)

    Nice Company: Here's something for free, consumers... enjoy!
    Eurocrats: Fuck you. No freebies. Everyone must pay more for everything.

    No wonder the UK left that trainwreck of a continent.

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