What Does Norway’s Net Neutrality Mean for the U.S.?

Hopefully nothing.  But international policy has a way of making waves on our shores; sort of a “Look what they’re doing in Europe, we should do that too” mantra that’s carried in some circles.

The policy that was passed in Norway on the 24th of February is voluntary, but has a large base of support across government, trade associations, and consumer groups within the country.

The policy boils down to 3 main objectives, and those wishing to voluntarily support and conduct business sign onto the document placing themselves accountable to those objectives.

The objectives are (the policy in PDF form can be found in its entirety here):

1) Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection with a predefined capacity and

2) Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that enables them to
– send and receive content of their choice
– use services and run applications of their choice
– connect hardware and use software of their choice that do not harm the network.

3) Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that is free of discrimination with
regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver

It should be noted that the language within these objectives is very vague, which is more than likely purposeful so that neutrality proponents can look to take many things into court that they deem in violation of the principles.  Being that the principles defined are voluntary, it is not clear though whether or not a signor could be held accountable and in violation of a law, per se, if they were not adhering to one of these principles.

In the end, it will most likely be the end user that suffers as networks become more densely populated.  ISPs will be unable to manage network traffic appropriately, and time sensitive content like bandwidth eating HD content and VoIP services will be hindered.

Look for neutralitypes to swoon over the passage of these voluntary principles — as is already occuring in Canada — and encourage passage of something similar stateside.  The success of this would most certainly lead to regulated and enforced net neutrality in the future, and is easily another example of Gateway Neutrality.