Net neutrality compliance in France better than elsewhere in Europe

No infringements of net neutrality has been idenitified in France by the Wehe app.

An app allowing Internet users to monitor their internet service provider’s proper conduct was presented at the Internet Governance Forum in Paris on Monday (12 November). The initial statistics have shown that France has fared well. EURACTIV France reports.

The French regulatory authority for electronic communication and the post, Arcep, is responsible for ensuring compliance with the European law on net neutrality in France.

Since the start of the year, Arcep has been working with Northeastern University in Boston on developing the “Wehe” app, which allows users to identify fraudulent internet service providers (ISPs).

For instance, the act of fraud may consist of restricting access to online video platforms, such as Youtube, or music platforms, such as Spotify.

In the EU, an internet provider can neither promote access to specific content nor decelerate certain connections, regardless of whether users are private individuals.

This is in accordance with the principle of net neutrality, which was established in 2016 by the European telecoms watchdog, BEREC.

Internet activists hail 'historic' EU net neutrality rules

Internet activists today (30 August) hailed the announcement by EU regulators of new rules to prevent telecoms companies from slowing down some internet traffic as a historic achievement.

No warnings in France

Since its launch on the App Store and Android on 18 January 2018, France has been the European country which has been tested the most by Wehe. No infringement has yet been detected by users in more than 12,000 tests, conducted for the most part on the “Free” network.

If users find an example of improper conduct, they can directly notify Arcep through the app.

France’s exemplary statistics are not matched by some of its western European neighbours. In Germany, Ireland, Spain but especially the United Kingdom, there have been violations of net neutrality. In the UK, there were more than 100 violations out of around 8,000 tests.

Debate about net neutrality is not over

On the other side of the Atlantic, the results are even worse. The three most tested countries (the United States, Canada and Brasil) are also those where net neutrality is compromised the most often.

This is partly due to the Trump Administration’s decision to repeal the provisions adopted in this area by his predecessor, Barack Obama, at the end of last year. As a result, net neutrality is no longer legally guaranteed.

Some providers, such as Orange, are calling for the debate to be revisited in Europe. In their view, there is a need to offer greater bandwidth capacities to industry in order to meet the challenges presented by telemedicine, autonomous cars and 5G.

Tensions over net neutrality shake up Mobile World Congress

Sparks flew at a public discussion over net neutrality at one of the world’s biggest tech conferences on Monday (27 February), as EU tech chief Andrus Ansip defended the bloc’s two-year-old legislation while sharing a stage with the American regulator who just repealed a similar US law.

Further Reading

European digital single market needs strong net neutrality guidelines

Without a strong protection of the principle of net neutrality, European digital businesses will be confronted with regional fragmentation and new barriers to market entry that will favour the already dominant tech companies from Silicon Valley, writes Stefan Heumann.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe