Study: Net neutrality policies vary in EU countries

The EU should look at country policies as it moves toward net neutrality regulations, a think tank says

European Union member states have adopted a range of stances on net neutrality, and the E.U. should look to the countries' examples as it attempts to move forward with new regulations, said one advocacy group.

Twenty-three of 28 E.U. member states have adopted positions on net neutrality, said the Openforum Academy, an open technology think tank, in a new report. Seven E.U. countries are considering further action on net neutrality, the report said.

"Debates at the national level should be considered by the EU if only for compatibility and inspiration purposes," Maël Brunet, head of the Brussels Office for Openforum Europe, said by email. "There certainly are interesting elements to consider there."

The Openforum Academy and sister organization Openforum Europe have supported efforts by the EU to draft net neutrality regulations.

E.U. Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes has said a new law would guarantee net neutrality and stop ISPs from blocking or throttling of competing services, but digital rights activists have published leaked drafts of the law that they say shows the opposite.

E.U. country positions are not uniform, the Openforum Academy report showed. In France, Austria and Denmark, officials have provided guidelines to the Internet industry, while the U.K. has launched a voluntary code of conduct. France has speed limits on peer-to-peer, video streaming and other services, the report said.

Germany has an official position of no traffic discrimination on future networks, while Ireland and Italy are waiting for a harmonized E.U. approach. Other countries have provided comments to the E.U., or launched internal consultations on the regulation. Italy has seen several potential violations of net neutrality, the report said.

Belgium has a legislative proposal on net neutrality pending, while Luxembourg's Parliament has adopted a motion calling for net neutrality to be part of national legislation.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Slovakia have no official position on net neutrality.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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