Chile enforces net neutrality for the first time, sort of

(via Jose Otero) In 2010 Chile became one of the first countries in the world to enact a net neutrality legislation. The law 20.453 enacts a three-pronged approach to protect users against abuse, firstly by determining that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may not differentiate content based on the origin; it creates an obligation for ISPs to allow users to use any legal equipment, and it also creates an obligation with regards to transparency of filters, speeds and quality of service. This is interesting because it is a very broad definition of net neutrality. Typically, net neutrality has been deemed as a principle of non-discrimination of content, which is present in the Chilean legislation  in this manner:

“a) [ISPs] May not arbitrarily block, interfere with, discriminate against, hinder or restrict the right of any Internet user to use, send, receive or offer any content, application or legal services through the Internet, and any other legal activity or use conducted through the network. In this sense, each user must provided with an Internet access or connectivity to the Internet service provider, as appropriate, without arbitrarily differentiating content, applications or services based on the source or ownership thereof, taking into account the different configurations of the Internet connection in accordance to its current contract with its users.”

This is clearly a pure net neutrality provision. However, as mentioned, the law also has provisions that are more relevant as consumer protection legislation, such as transparency and disclosure.

With this fact in mind, a Chilean Internet user made a complaint against their ISP to the Chilean telecoms regulator (SUBTEL) with regards to advertised Internet speeds, alleging that he had a contract for 40 Mbps, but he would get at the most 5 Mbps.  SUBTEL ruled in favour of the user, and ordered the ISP to change the tariff in accordance to the actual speeds that the user was getting.

So it is quite interesting that for the first time we have an application of net neutrality law, but for an offence that is not at all related to net neutrality. We will have to wait and see if in the future there is a more clear-cut net neutrality case.

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