District Court of Rotterdam rules in net neutrality case

Charging consumers different tariffs for services on the Internet (tariff differentiation) is a violation of Dutch net-neutrality regulations. This has been confirmed by the District Court of Rotterdam in an appeal that telecom company Vodafone had filed against an ACM decision taken in January 2015. The court shares ACM’s analysis, and it also fully upholds the EUR 200,000 fine that ACM had imposed on Vodafone.

What was this case about?

Vodafone offered plans with which customers were able to watch pay-tv channel HBO on their phones without charging these customers the data used for watching HBO. That way, Vodafone influenced its customers’ online behavior. This is not allowed under net neutrality rules.

What is net neutrality?

Internet providers are not allowed to influence the choices that consumers make. This means they are not allowed to block access to specific content or applications (apps), but also that they cannot charge different tariffs for the use of online services and applications. After all, all data must be transmitted under the same conditions. That is the idea behind net neutrality. All internet providers in the Netherlands are required to comply with the net neutrality regulations.


March 21, 2016: Vodafone decided not to file an appeal with the highest court.