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Open Internet Regulation is not an obstacle to blocking RT and Sputnik because of EU sanctions

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has informed Dutch telecom operators that the Open Internet Regulation is not an obstacle to the implementation of the European sanctions regarding the suspension of distribution of Russian media channels RT and Sputnik. This means that Dutch internet access providers are allowed to block the websites of RT and Sputnik as long as the thereto-related European sanctions are in place.

According to the Open Internet Regulation, internet access providers are, in general, not allowed to block any content, apart from three justified exceptions laid down in the Open Internet Regulation. However, taking certain measures in order to comply with EU rules and regulations is one of the exceptions mentioned in the Open Internet Regulation that allow providers to block certain content, applications or services.

This has been confirmed in a statement of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), of which ACM is also a member. “To enable a swift implementation of the sanctions, we want to make clear that there are no obstacles in the net neutrality rules to comply with the measures”, says Annemarie Sipkes, BEREC chair and Director of ACM’s Telecommunications, Transport and Postal Services Department.

ACM has informed internet access providers that at least the following websites fall under the scope of the sanctions. These are websites that belong to the entities that are listed in Annex XV of the Regulation:

RT - Russia Today English
RT - Russia Today UK
RT - Russia Today Germany
RT - Russia Today France
RT - Russia Today Spanish

As such, blocking these websites is in line with the Open Internet Regulation, which means that ACM will not take any enforcement action as long as the European sanctions are in place.

The manner in which the measures have been implemented in the Dutch sanction regulations ( Min-BuZa.2022.11520-15) has been published in the Dutch Government Gazette of 4 March 2022 (no. 6783).