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Internet Tax: Vodafone fined for ‘free’ HBO channels

by Robert Briel


The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined Vodafone €200,000 for offering streaming HBO channels without charging for data usage.
In the Netherlands, all providers are required to guarantee net neutrality. Vodafone offered plans with which customers were able to watch HBO using an app without charging these customers the data used for watching HBO. “That way, Vodafone influenced its customers’ online behavior, which is not allowed either. Regulations require internet providers not to influence consumer behaviour through blockades or tariffs,” said the ACM in a statement.
“In addition to the prohibition of blocking, internet providers cannot charge different tariffs for the use of online services and applications. All of these regulations help create an open internet. Having an open Internet is important in order to be able to distribute information freely, and to have more choice online.”
Henk Don, Member of the Board of ACM, added: “Internet providers are not allowed to decide for consumers what they can do on the internet, and they are not allowed to influence their behaviour either. All data must be transmitted under the same conditions. That is the idea behind net neutrality, and that is what we are enforcing in these cases. ACM thus prevents consumers from having less freedom of choice online.”
ACM also issued KPN with a fine of €250,000 for blocking certain VOIP apps on its network of free Wi-Fi spots.