The road to net neutrality within the European Union (EU) has been slow and winding. However, a major milestone was reached in August 2016 through the publication of the BEREC Guidelines on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules. This extended article explores the scope of the net neutrality principle as understood and applied in a number of jurisdictions. The approach in the EU is contrasted with the approaches of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States (US) and of a number of other countries.
A U.S. Federal Court ruling in January 2014 overturned Net Neutrality rules issued in 2010 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the body that regulates both the telecommunications and the cable industries in the U.S. This sparked significant support for establishing new rules to provide Net Neutrality and resulted in the submission of more than one million comments to the FCC, which broke all records. This led to the FCC adopting new Net Neutrality rules in February 2015. The FCC followed President Barack Obama?s lead and classified the broadband operators as common carriers, which will require that they treat all of their customers and all content providers equally. As common carriers the broadband operators will not be able to favour one content provider over another or favour their own content services. It is very likely that these new rules will not settle the issue and will be challenged in Congress and in the courts. The Net Neutrality controversy will continue.
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