Chile has become the first country in the world to approve, by 100 votes in favor and one abstention, a law guaranteeing net neutrality (Google translation; Spanish original). The law states [submitter’s translation]: ‘No [ISP] can block, interfere with, discriminate, hinder, nor restrict the right of any Internet user of using, send, receive or offer any content, application, or legitimate service through the Internet, as well as any activity or legitimate use conducted through the Internet.’ The law also has articles that force ISP to provide parental control tools, clarify contracts, guarantee users’ privacy and safety when surfing, and forbids them to restrict any liberty whatsoever. This is a major advance in the legislation of the country regarding the Web, when until last year almost anything that was performed online was considered illegal.
This is the sort of law I would love to see in Australia. One that takes step to protect people from seeing things they don’t want to (or want their children to), but does not try and limit what information users can access. It’s getting close to the correct balance.
There are two massive threats to our online rights in coming years. One is that providers may seek to limit user access to competing products and information, the other that governments may try and decide what information they want their citizens to have access to. Chile is moving in one direction, and Australia in another. Sadly, I think we are moving in the wrong way.