Feeds

Regulators and law don't protect UK net neutrality

ISPs can do as they want, as long as they tell you first

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

There is no legal barrier in the UK to internet service providers (ISPs) blocking content from website operators who do not pay them. Neither consumer law nor telecoms regulation protects ISP subscribers, technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio has revealed.

BT last week said that it wanted the operators of web video services to pay it for the cost of maintaining networks powerful enough to handle online video. It said that the BBC and Google should pay it because of the popularity of their iPlayer and YouTube services.

Other major ISPs are said also to be concerned at the infrastructure costs involved in ensuring that subscribers can watch video content, and the remarks raise the prospect of ISPs slowing or even blocking subscribers' access to content from operators which do not pay them.

OUT-LAW Radio investigated whether there was any legal barrier in the UK to an ISP slowing or blocking access to video services such as the iPlayer and found that there are none. As long as an ISP explains its actions in its fair use policies or statements of terms and conditions it is permitted to block whatever it likes.

A spokeswoman for telecoms regulator Ofcom said that ISPs all had to abide by its General Conditions, but that these did not specify that all internet traffic had to be treated equally.

She said that there is a voluntary Code of Practice governing the advertising of broadband speeds, but that this only demands that ISPs inform customers of any traffic shaping or blocking that it engages in.

She said that Ofcom had previously considered the issue of whether such blocking or shaping for reasons other than network management might be unfair to consumers, but had not come to any conclusion.

A lawyer at consumer protection body Which?'s legal division also said that consumers would only have grounds for complaint if a connection was interfered with without notification.

"The Supply of Goods and Services Act relates to their broadband contract so basically there is an obligation there to provide the service that was previously promised and as described," said Stephen McGlade of Which? Legal Services. "If there is any situation where the internet connection is reduced in some way, obviously one would have to look at the service contract, at the terms and conditions, to see what it says in relation to that service agreement."

"They could challenge it if they are deprived of being able to look at this legal content, they could request an alteration to the service and should be looking for some compensation," he said, referring only to situations where an ISP does not give notice of the change.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.