Dutch parliament passes Europe's first net neutrality law

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Last week, the Dutch parliament passed a wide-ranging network neutrality bill that attempts to bring the country's largest wireless operator to heel. If it clears the Senate as expected, the Dutch proposal will become the first such law adopted in Europe.

Incumbent telco KPN, now privatized, announced earlier this year a new plan to rebuild slumping revenues from voice calls and text messaging: charge more to users of Internet VoIP services and instant messaging apps. To make the scheme work, KPN would use deep packet inspection to monitor and classify all subscriber Internet traffic, singling out the protocols or apps it chose and billing more for those bits.

The audacious scheme went too far even for Europe, which has long prided itself on using ISP competition—rather than regulation—as the main way to prevent abuse. Maxime Verhagen, the Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture, and Innovation, quickly announced in parliament a plan to ban the practice, and parliament approved the ban last week.