Subtel likely to have to modify net neutrality regulation - lawyer

- Monday, January 24, 2011

Subtel likely to have to modify net neutrality regulation - lawyer

Chilean telecoms regulator Subtel is likely to come under considerable pressure over the next few days to modify recently published regulations for an internet neutrality law, which have provoked the ire of internet consumer groups, Claudio Magliona, a lawyer with Garcia Magliona & Cia, told BNamericas.

Subtel announced last Thursday that regulations for the law, approved by Chile's congress last July, had been completed and sent to the comptroller general for approval.

Regulations were designed to allow internet service providers (ISPs) to introduce tiered pricing and service speeds for internet access with the intention of moving the industry away from flat fee, "all you can eat" models, which allow a minority of heavy users, such as peer-to-peer sites, to create congestion and slow down the internet for others.

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This rule would oblige ISPs to make it very clear to users what minimum speeds they would be guaranteed.

Secondly, the law was due to establish a clear list of activities that would be considered infringements on net neutrality, such as blocking or discriminating certain sites by sending them over slower connection speeds.

Regulation regarding the second of these two aspects falls short of what the law had promised, according to Magliona.

First of all, instead of preventing ISPs from interfering with or prioritizing or blocking certain content, the regulations appear to give the ISPs carte blanche to do exactly that, providing they previously inform consumers of their intention to do so.

This idea of previous disclosure was "an invention" of Subtel head Jorge Atton and not part of the original spirit of the law, Magliona said.

"The regulation is based on the premise of previous self-disclosure; everything is legal coming from the ISPs," Magliona said.

"The regulation says that if the ISPs says in their terms and conditions that they are going to discriminate against content Z and D, they can discriminate against content Z and D. But that is not a law of network neutrality - that is a law of self-regulation," the lawyer said.

In addition, the list of activities that constitute infringement of internet neutrality is lacking, Magliona said.

"I think the comptroller general may say that the regulation has to return to Subtel, and that Subtel will have to complement the regulation," he said.

"I think Subtel is going to come under a lot of pressure over the next few days," Magliona added, saying that the regulation was apparently hurried ahead of the summer recess.