The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has published a landmark ruling relating to net neutrality. The judgment is a significant development in the context of European internet regulation, being the first time the ECJ has interpreted the EU’s 2015 rules on open internet access.
In particular, the decision is a victory for net neutrality advocates, who argue that telecoms operators must give equal treatment to all internet traffic – in this case, by prohibiting zero rating practices which allow operators to exempt the use of certain services from users’ data caps.
More broadly, however, the ruling is a further point of difference in the increasingly divergent EU and US approaches to technology regulation.
On the one hand, the Federal Communications Commission unwound US net neutrality rules in 2017 whilst also calling time on its investigations into zero rating practices. On the other hand, telcos in Europe now have a new challenge to meet: how to offer attractive data packages in a highly competitive market that also ensure consumers’ choices and rights are respected.
The Court interprets, for the first time, the EU regulation enshrining ‘internet neutrality’