Europe cracks down on data cap exemptions in update to net neutrality rules


Publish Date:
June 15, 2022
Ars Technica
Related Person(s):
Related Organization(s):


“Despite intense lobbying from big carriers and giant platforms, BEREC voted to clearly ban zero-rating offers that benefit select apps or categories of apps by exempting them from people’s monthly data caps,” Stanford Law Professor Barbara van Schewick wrote. “The ban applies whether the app pays to be included or not, closing a loophole in the draft guidelines.”

Van Schewick explained that “BEREC’s previous net neutrality guidelines did not categorically ban selective zero-rating programs or category-based ones that, e.g., offer to zero-rate all music or video apps. So carriers across the EU took advantage and collectively launched hundreds of zero-rating programs. These often exempted the carriers’ own services and disproportionately benefited big platforms like Apple, Google, and Facebook, while small companies and European startups were left out.”

While “many European carriers offer plans that don’t count the data you use on Facebook or WhatsApp against your data cap,” van Schewick predicted that “carriers across the EU will soon end their discriminatory zero-rating plans and offer customers of those plans significantly more data for the same price.”

Non-discriminatory zero-rating will still be allowed, meaning that a carrier can exempt all data usage from a cap “at certain times of day or as a promotion; it just can’t force you to use that data on a specific site,” van Schewick wrote.

Read More