Net neutrality: France is world champion

Jan 2, 2019
Vote on Hacker News
neutralite-net-france-championne
Arcep (independent French agency in charge of regulating telecommunications in France) has launched the app, Wehe. It evaluates if an internet provider respects net neutrality. After the first series of analysis, France is far ahead with positive results.
 
Net neutrality (or network neutrality) is a principle of digital governance. All internet content must have similar speed available, without discrimination. This principle prevents providers from modifying the bandwidth in favor of a website or some content.
 

Arcep takes a stand to defend net neutrality

 
While net neutrality was abandoned in the USA last summer 2018, it was entrenched in Europe in August 2016. The ORECE (the EU telecom regulator) made sure all providers within the union stuck to this neutrality.
 
The Arcep is always on the cutting edge when it comes to citizen rights. As a “gendarme” for telecoms, they thought up a tool to control if a provider respects -or not- this neutrality.
Arcep worked with Northeastern University in Boston, US.
 

Wehe, an app to check if your provider respects net

 
The result of this collaboration is an app available on both Apple Store and Google Play. It is called Wehe. It can ckeck, in real time, if no discrimination is put on the access to a specific website.
The user can launch a test anytime. Wehe simulates traffic to specific websites then sends crypted content (not visible by the provider).
The app then compares speeds. If net neutrality is respected, then the numbers should be identical.
 
If there is a discrepancy, Wehe offers more in-depth tests to pinpoint protocols that allows the provider to curb or prioritize content – which is illegal. Wehe forwards this to Arcep. The app is available since November 2018.
 
Arcep shared the first findings in a press release. It gives a global views of net neutrality worldwide.
 

Brazil, Canada, USA, UK: the naughty bunch

 
It doesn’t come as a surprise. The worse results came from across the pond with Brazil, Canada and the US. Three countries where providers are very powerful and push to limit net neutrality.
Net neutrality was rescinded in the US but is still supposed to be in place in Canada and Brazil. It seems providers are cosy enough to make arrangements with the law.
 
But there were some issues in the EU too. Frequent lapses were found in Spain, Germany or Ireland. But the UK is where results are the worst: 100 violations in 8,000 tests. In 12,5% of all cases, the British providers don’t respect net neutrality!
 

No violations in France!

 
On the other end, the European champion (maybe the world – EU has the toughest regulations) is France. After 12,000 tests, no violations were found! The French telecom market has strong controls enforced. Especially since the opening of the market and the end of the France Télécom monopoly (now Orange).
 
The French authorities, including Arcep, have always kept a close watch on providers to make sure they respect regulations. And to make sure they don’t get too much power.
Carefully thought out regulations actually benefit users and citizens more than an open space with no rules… If one believes the internet should be a space open to all without discrimination.