Telecom Networks Neutrality Bill Passes First Knesset Reading

The Knesset (Israeli parliament) recently approved, in first reading, the “Telecom Networks Neutrality” bill (Communications Bill (telecommunications and broadcast) (Amendment No. 58) (prohibition on restriction or blockage), 5773-2013), text in Hebrew). The law would prohibit Internet service providers, telecommunications companies, and cable and satellite broadcast companies from limiting, restricting or impeding a subscriber's use of any particular content service, application (app) or equipment. The law also aims to prohibit providers from implementing technical restrictions or obstructions within the subscribers' equipment that would prevent subscribers from shifting to another service provider using the same equipment.

The law is designed to supplement the existing regulation already in-effect in the cellphone market, which prohibits limiting or blocking certain equipment or applications. The Israeli Communications Minister, Gilad Erdan, noted that the legislation's goal is to “maintain the rules of fair competition that will prevent giving communications infrastructure owners the option of impairing the customers' ability to receive services from competing providers. This move will increase competition in the marketplace, reduce costs, and allow new players to offer varied content, including via the internet.” Source: Ministry of Communications Spokesperson's Press Release (in Hebrew).