One of the biggest problem with establishing laws on the internet is everyone has their own idea of what’s required. For you the digital individual can sit in one country and interact, buy, sell and chat with people and businesses in a host of other countries. Every country has their own laws and it’s very confusing which should apply! The European Union is attempting to establish a set of rules for a Digital Single Market (DSM) but it’s extremely difficult as each country still has it’s own internet based rules and regulations too.
Take for example the new Internet neutrality laws adopted by the Netherlands this month, a single law or actually an amendment to their Telecommunications act banning zero rating in the case of certain services or categories. Nothing particularly controversial, yet it illustrates the difficulty in unifying digital markets simply because it contravenes what Europe has already decided that National regulators decide zero rating pricing on a case-by-case basis.
Meanwhile of course commercial enterprises have a slightly different agenda, T-Mobile Netherlands have launched something called ‘Music Freedom’ which allows customers unmetered access to music streaming services. This offer also potentially violates the new net neutrality laws.
None of the laws are particularly restrictive and often represent a desire to protect the consumers. However it is easy to see how individual countries passing hundreds of specific internet and telecoms laws will undermine a single digital market. Combined with both individuals and companies also trying to implement their own specific choices makes for a formidable challenge.
At the moment individual consumers have to use technical skills and IP changing software to access digital products which are bought in one European country if they travel to another. Yet the companies don’t like this for a variety of reasons and it’s why you’ll find things like Netflix VPN bans – here – mainly they say to enforce licensing restrictions imposed on them.