Net neutrality

What you need to know ? The net neutrality principle ensures an equal treatment of all data on the Internet, regardless of the origin, target, device, application used to transmit information or content of the transmitted information.

Therefore, this principle prevents operators from treating some clients (who would pay more) more favourably than others and from favouring the content coming from certain clients over the content sent by other clients...

On 25 November 2015, the European Union adopted common rules in its Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and on 30 August 2016, BEREC, the Body of European Regulators, published guidelines on the implementation of the Regulation. 

Individual users, therefore, have the right to access and distribute content and services on the Internet
(of course without prejudice to the legislation on illegal or harmful content).

Network operators or Internet access providers cannot block or slow down content depending on the individuals or the companies that send or receive this content.

Certain (exceptional and temporary) measures necessary to avoid congestion and to protect the security of the network are however possible, as long as they do not discriminate between the types of users or contents. If clients require more capacity or a higher quality level, operators can provide them with these, so long as these services are not supplied at the expense of the availability, quality or capacity of the open Internet.

An operator has to inform its client of the actual quality of the connection it provides; it has to specify what could affect the performance of this connection or present a risk for the personal data or the privacy of this client. Operators also have to give accurate technical information, particularly on the expected download and upload speeds. Besides, they must provide information on where to register complaints if obligations have not been met.

What does it mean for consumers?

Consumers have a right to a contract which specifies the expected performance of the Internet connection service to which they subscribe (performance applicable in practical terms to the address of the connection for fixed Internet access service).

Moreover, the contract has to specify the applicable compensation if the provisions of the contract are not fulfilled as well as how to register a complaint.

An access provider cannot prevent you from accessing or distributing content on the network but it can compel you to abide by a code of good practice when it concludes a contract with you; this code of good practice draws your attention to the fact that you cannot distribute illegal content (child pornography images or incitements to hatred, for example).