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May 09, 2012, 10:41 AM — The Netherlands is the first country in Europe to adopt a net neutrality law, and the second country in the world, after Chile. The Dutch Senate adopted the net neutrality provisions in a new Telecom Law approved on Tuesday evening.
The changes to the law were approved unanimously, according to the Senate website. The net neutrality law will ensure that access to the Internet is neutral and it is forbidden to filter the Internet.
The law aims to prevent telecom providers from blocking or throttling services such as Skype or WhatsApp, an Internet SMS service. Internet providers will also be prohibited from making prices for their Internet services dependent on the services used by the subscriber. ISPs may throttle traffic to prevent congestion or protect the network -- but only if they treat all traffic of the same type equally -- and they may not block traffic unless it is necessary in order to protect the integrity and security of the network or users' terminals.
Not everybody thinks the Dutch net neutrality law is a good idea. Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, voiced her doubts about the Dutch plans in a speech last year. "I regret very much that The Netherlands seems to be moving unilaterally on this issue," she said at the time, adding that requiring operators to provide only "full Internet" could kill innovative new offers and higher prices for consumers with limited needs.
The new Dutch Telecom Law will be in effect after the Queen signs the law and the law is officially published.