Zero ratings contravene net neutrality - Brazil's internet bill author

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Offers by mobile operators of free access to selected websites under zero rating deals contravenes the net neutrality enshrined in Brazil's Marco Civil da Internet, the country's internet bill of rights that went into effect in June 2014.

This is the opinion of the bill's author, lawmaker Alessandro Molon, who took part in a seminar on network neutrality this Monday (June 9) in Rio de Janeiro.

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According to local media reports, Molon said zero rating deals do not fall under either of the only two possible exceptions to network neutrality allowed under the Marco Civil: for technical issues or to prioritize emergency services.

A specific regulation on the cases in which net neutrality can be lawfully disregarded is being wrapped up by communication authorities after the conclusion of public consultation processes.

"If one wants to offer free access, then they must observe users' freedom of choice, so that the data plan is used to access any type of service," the congressman was quoted as saying by Convergência Digital.

On previous occasions, when questioned about the potential conflict between zero rating and net neutrality, Molon opted not to take sides. He also said that exceptions to net neutrality must be few and far between, focusing on principles, rather than being case-specific.

In Latin America, Chile's neutrality legislation also bans zero rating deals.

Present at the same event, officials from Brazil's telecoms watchdog Anatel backed the freedom of business models - a principle also enshrined in Brazil's internet bill.

"Anatel believes that the numerous business models that supported the development of the internet are the basis for innovation, creation of new services and applications. If the regulation formally tried to prevent or allow these types of models in advance, this could hinder the rise of new applications," said José Alexandre Bicalho, planning and regulation superintendent at Anatel.

INTERNET.ORG

As for Facebook's Internet.org project, expected to be launched soon in Brazil, Molon said he did not believe a formal deal would be signed before the approval of the pending regulations in the Marco Civil.

In April Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced their intention to bring the service to Brazil, but internet freedom groups claim the initiative violates net neutrality and is a "risk" to the internet.

Facebook's VP of global access policies, Kevin Martin, defended Internet.org and said the service is not opposed to neutrality and nor will it keep users' data. He also said Facebook does not pay operators for free access.