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US Senator Calls for Net Neutrality Investigation

The Netherlands recently passed net neutrality legislation becoming the first country in the European Union to do so and only the second nation in the world. In the United States, a major broadband provider’s practices come under scrutiny by a U.S. Senator calling for further investigation.

Net neutrality regulations prevent internet service providers from blocking or slowing down traffic to specific websites or services, such as their competitor’s, as well preventing ISPs from charging more for access to certain sites or services. Under the Dutch regulation ISPs may slow down traffic during peak times but must throttle all traffic equally, and internet traffic can only be blocked to protect the security of a network or its users.

The newly enacted net neutrality laws in the Netherlands also include privacy provisions to not allow deep packet inspection of internet communications without a warrant or express consent. As the first European Union member to enact net neutrality laws, the Netherlands has put pressure on the EU Parliament to draft net neutrality legislation providing the framework for all other member states. Chile is the only nation to have had net neutrality laws in place before the Dutch.

Recently in the U.S., Senator Al Franken accused broadband provider Comcast’s practice of capping monthly data at 250GB but not counting data from Comcast’s streaming video service against this cap, as violation of net neutrality rules which Comcast agreed to as part of the merger with NBC Universal. This gives Comcast’s Xfinity online video service an unfair advantage over competitors like Netflix and Hulu who would count against the Comcast internet subscriber’s monthly data cap. Comcast argues that because the content is delivered exclusively on its network, and not the public internet, not counting Xfinity streaming data against the monthly cap is not subject to the FCC’s Open Internet Order of 2010, which calls for transparency, no blocking and no unreasonable discrimination by broadband providers. In a letter to the FCC Senator Franken encourages both the FCC and Department of Justice to investigate Comcast and these practices, and if violations are found to charge “significant penalties.”

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