Dutch parliament to make net neutrality law

The Dutch Parliament is about to pass a law which will stop ISPs discriminating against traffic which encroaches on their own core businesses.

Aimed mainly at service providers that also operate mobile phone networks, the law will ban companies from charging extra for free telephony services like Skype or even blocking them.

Always progressive in its outlook on technology, the Netherlands will be the first European country to outlaw the practice that has been has been a massive point of contention for the companies insisting the policy has nothing to do with protecting their own income. These maintain that they are clamping down on the services in order to preserve bandwidth for less-demanding users.

Once the bill has passed through the country's senate, which the BBC says is expected to be a formality, it will be illegal for an ISP to differentiate between web traffic, be it a voice call, video stream, e-mail or gaming data.

All of the major mobile operators rallied against the legislation saying it would lead to higher bills for all consumers.

Dutch airtime outfit KPN started the the ball rolling when it announced it would start charging for Skype and WhatsApp, a free text-messaging service. Users were apparently outraged to realise that their ISPs were able to tell which services and applications they were using in the first place.

Labour MP Martijn van Dam said KPN was like "a postal worker who delivers a letter, looks to see what's in it, and then claims he hasn't read it."

Chile is the only other country to have enshrined a similar policy in law.