External publication

New network neutrality rules in Europe: comparisons to those in the U.S.

This paper explains the similarities and differences between European and U.S. net neutrality rules.

Publishing date
15 September 2016
J. Scott Marcus

This paper was originally published in the Colorado Technology Law Journal, Volume 14 - Issue 2.

In November 2015, the European Union enacted new binding rules for network neutrality under Regulation 2015/2120. This was the culmination of a process that began in September 2013, with roots that go back nearly ten years. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the current incarnation of its Open Internet Order several months earlier, in February 2015.

The new European network neutrality rules are not a carbon copy of those implemented in the FCC’s Open Internet Order of 2015. They reflect very different regulatory, competition policy, and market realities than those in the United States; moreover, they were motivated to a significant degree by different concerns. The rules are similar in most respects; a possibly significant difference, however, is that the European approach is arguably more innovation-friendly to the extent that it does not specifically prohibit paid prioritization. Given the rarity of problematic incidents in Europe, the net effect of the network neutrality provisions of the Regulation is likely to be minimal in any case.

This brief paper is intended to explain the similarities and differences to a North American and global audience.

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