Ofcom has recently published its annual report monitoring internet service providers’ (“ISP“) compliance with the EU Net Neutrality Regulation (the “Regulation“). The Regulation came into effect on 30 April 2016 and imposes a range of obligations on ISPs including the way in which they manage data traffic on their networks and the terms and conditions of, and the information included in, the contracts they offer to provide internet access services.
Net neutrality is the principle that there should be no restriction on an individual’s access to the networks that make up the infrastructure of the internet and no discrimination between the types and sources of data across the network. It enables access to all content and applications regardless of the source and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. Ofcom is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Regulation in the UK.
The recently published annual report has been submitted to the European Commission for review and focusses at this stage on residential services. Whilst Ofcom concludes that there are no major concerns regarding safeguarding open internet access, traffic management, transparency measures or complaints and remedies regimes, the report sets out further goals for ISPs to improve the speed of services experienced by consumers.
Ofcom’s report “Monitoring compliance with the EU Net Neutrality Regulation” can be found here.
In parallel with the European regime, in February 2015 in the United States the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC“) voted to impose stricter regulations on ISPs to support the net neutrality principle. However, earlier this year President Trump’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, sought to overturn the 2015 Order and on 18 May the FCC voted to support a new proposal to repeal the order. Members of the public had until 17 July 2017 to respond to the proposals and approximately 200 internet companies (including Facebook, Google, Spotify and Amazon) protested against the new proposals on 12 July 2017.The FCC is expected to provide a statement on the responses received by 17 August 2017.