Only two countries in Europe not violating network neutrality principles

There are only two countries in Europe – Finland and Bulgaria, where there are no violations of the network neutrality principles, follows from the Report on network neutrality in Europe, published by the Austrian data protection NGO epicenter.works. The analysis of the European market was carried out with the support of the Chamber of Labour after two and a half years of implementation of the net neutrality legislation.

For the purpose of the research, websites of 225 mobile operators were searched over four months by a team of five and with 186 of these network neutrality violations were identified. These practices have a negative impact on the European Digital Single Market. The collected data shows that zero rating leads to new market entry barriers between EU countries.

Net neutrality violations mainly benefit large US internet corporations. Among the top 20 offers are only 3 European offers. 

The privacy of individual users in the EU is jeopardised by violations of net neutrality. In order to be able to count the data of individual applications differently, the concrete online behaviour of the users has to be monitored. It uses Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) equipment, which looks deep into users’ data packets.

This study also performed an economic analysis demonstrating that zero rating leads to a generally negative price trend. Mobile offers are becoming more expensive.

There is a lack of a consistent approach by regulators in the event of cross-border neutrality. Some national regulators even refuse to publish annual reports on network neutrality violations or adhere to the guidelines of the European umbrella organisation BEREC.

Since penalties for net neutrality violations are within the jurisdiction of individual nation states, there are also some countries that have only now – two years after the entry into force of net neutrality legislation – established penalties and infringements. Penalties range from several million euros to a few thousand euros. Two countries have not yet issued any penalties (Ireland, Portugal).

The mandatory indication of actual upload and download speeds is ignored by most providers. This leads to the unsatisfactory situation, especially in Austria, that it is unclear which bandwidths the customers are really guaranteed by contract.

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