The Netherlands has historically been on the cutting edge in relation to certain concepts, especially in regards to personal freedom. While Amsterdam is famous for its approach to recreational drug use, other concepts like prostitution, which is legal and regulated, are obviously treated differently in the Netherlands than they are in the United States.
Now, it appears as if the Netherlands is once again on the cutting edge, this time, with the country’s approach to net neutrality laws. Thanks to the passage of new legislation, the Netherlands is the first European country to make net neutrality the law of the land. Not only that, but the Dutch lawmakers also introduced restrictions concerning Dutch ISPs wiretapping their users, and introduced limitations concerning ISPs disconnecting their subscribers.
According to a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the wiretapping limitations include the use of deep packet inspections, which are no longer allowed without legal approval or consent from the subscribers themselves. Regarding the stipulations for which ISPs can disconnect a subscriber, the new legislation introduced six conditions, which are spelled out quite clearly:
…termination at the request of the subscriber, non-payment by a subscriber, in cases of deception, at the expiry of a fixed contract, force majeure, or if the ISP is required to terminate by law or a court order. In addition, the network neutrality provisions also permit blocking of an Internet connection where necessary for the integrity and security of a network.
Furthermore, the disconnection stipulations are based on EU standards from 2009, which states such an interruption of Internet service may only occur if the following conditions are met:
appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society, and their implementation shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law, including effective judicial protection and due process.
The adoption of net neutrality principles by the Netherlands was happily greeted by Bits of Freedom, a Dutch watchdog group that focuses on citizens’ digital rights:
Bits of Freedom, the Dutch digital rights movement which campaigned for these provisions, applauds the new law. It considers this a historical moment for internet freedom in The Netherlands and calls on other countries to follow the Dutch example.
Meanwhile, in the United States, ISPs still have entirely too much influence over the adoption of net neutrality, and they are, unfortunately, given much more credence then they would get in a country like the Netherlands.