Sweden To Enforce Net Neutrality, Kinda

Swedish public-service television just reported that the cabinet will put forward a law proposal tomorrow intended to put an end to the practice of selectively blocking certain Internet traffic — specifically, blocking IP phone calls on mobile phones.

The proposal (translated news here) is not legally waterproof; the first half of it is just the babbling of the European Telecoms Package talking about disclosure of limiting access to content. In clearer words, anybody blocking parts of the net must clearly and unambiguously say so. In even clearer words, the mobile operators can say “we screw you with the lights on”.

But the second half is more interesting, and apparently effective enough. It mandates that if the operators continue to block traffic, the Swedish Postal and Telecoms Authority (PTS) will have the authority to order traffic types unblocked by operators.

The effect in practice was almost immediate. Mobile operator 3 had previously compared using mobile internet to place voice calls to bypassing your electricity meter, effectively comparing it to stealing. (Now, where have we heard that before?) But under the gallows, they have a completely different mindset, and are now talking about how internet telephony will benefit both customers and them as a telco operator. That’s speedwaffling at its finest.

This kind of legislation is probably the best of both worlds. It’s not a forcing legislation that would have the negative effects of a mandated net neutrality, negative effects both predicted and unpredicted, but it’s still an effective legislation against obvious misuse of vertical bundling, as we have seen that the operators have already switched sides and are now preaching the wonders of net neutrality.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Falkvinge, Falkvinge, Jan Johannesson, Johan S, Staffan Kerker and others. Staffan Kerker said: RT @Falkvinge: BREAKING: Sweden To Enforce Net Neutrality, Kinda http://is.gd/z101VB #infopolicy #netneutrality […]

  2. […] blockera internetsamtal – DN.SE. Regeringen ger PTS rätt att förbjuda blockering av Skype i mobilt Internet. Det här inlägget postades i Internet, lagar, nätneutralitet, telekom och har märkts med […]

  3. James Waldrop

    Interesting piece of legislation and a significantly different approach then the FCC took in the United States. Sufficient broadband competition coupled with “screw you with the lights on” could make net neutrality an issue of the past.

    1. ANNM

      Hardly. It would only work to prevent limitations that a majority of the customers cared about (such as the mentioned VoIP blocking, ironically enough). Providers would probably not see a dent in their income if they decided to block e.g. anonymizing proxies like Tor or distributed anonymous datastores like Freenet since most people really don’t care about those.

      As always, it’s the minority that needs protection, not the majority which can rely on market forces.

  4. ANNM

    The sudden outbreak of common sense continues – in todays DN ( http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/nataktivister-ska-fa-svenskt-bistand ) the Swedish minister of foreign aid wants to increase spending on “social media” and “technical systems that prevent governments from shutting down the internet”. The only example given in the article is a video sharing service, but with a bit of luck maybe projects like Tor could get a bit of funding from this?

    I wonder if the Swedish government is in some sort of damage control mode following all the negative press about the judicial system related to the Assange case.

    1. ANNM

      Looks like Sweden already is one of the major sponsors of Tor, via Sida ( https://www.torproject.org/about/sponsors.html.en ). Hopefully it will continue.

      1. Rick Falkvinge

        That’s surprising. Apparently, the government is indeed in damage control mode. Are they aware they’re instituting wiretapping with one hand and undoing it with the other?

      2. Scary Devil Monastery

        Are they aware they’re instituting wiretapping with one hand and undoing it with the other?

        Nice one, Rick, but you know the answer to that. Anyone who’s ever worked for a major corporation realizes that there’s a multiple front war going on between the different units. Sales wants to sell as much as possible to as many as possible, Marketing want to present the best campaigns and streamlined portfolios. Finance just wants the numbers correctly entered. So when a manager of Sales decides to accept out-of-framework contracts because that means they sell more he scuttles the work of marketing and finance. When Marketing pulls an item off the market which is still a good earner for Sales they scuttle sales and mess up relations with the customers. And when Finance decides everything must be handled in specific ways they spoke the wheel of both Sales and Marketing. The result, more often than not, is a civil but unyielding low-intensity skirmish in the meeting rooms.

        And that’s an example from the private market where corporations have to show profit at the end of the day. Now translate the model to politics where to my knowledge no single institution has to display any sort of result ever, and the only auditorial review is an election once every four years at which time everyone starts cooking the books well in advance.

        I’m pretty sure the “government” neither has any clue as to what they are doing specifically – but are, as usual, trying to satisfy two or three mutually impossible requirements by handing in botched hack jobs. 🙂

  5. […] skrev jag, Falkvinge och Christan Engström etc om regeringens förslag om att införa nätneutralitet i mobilt […]

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