Open Internet Code of Practice 2016

Open Internet Code of Practice 2016

In summer 2015, the BSG launched the review of the Traffic Management Transparency and Open Internet Codes of Practice adopted in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

The BSG commissioned consultancy WIK to undertake the study as both a form of good practice, to assess the UK’s approach in light of the EU Connected Continent Regulation and what improvements can be made to the benefit of consumers and content and service providers. The review of the Codes was conducted in conjunction with the Open Internet Forum which brings together content providers, network operators, Government and Ofcom to discuss issues relating to the Open Internet.

The review received support from Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey who stated: “I welcome this decision by industry and the Broadband Stakeholder Group to review the Open Internet and transparency codes of practice. Both codes have been essential in making sure we have an open Internet for consumers in the UK. The Government encouraged the industry to develop a self-regulatory solution and so I am delighted with their success.”

The report, published in November 2015, found that the UK’s Open Internet and Traffic Management Codes of Practice have been effective when measured against the principles of an Open Internet. WIK also found that the Codes could continue to add value “over and above the requirements laid out in the Regulation”.

On the basis of WIK’s recommendations and Open Internet Forum’s directions of travel, the BSG started the drafting the new Open Internet Code. The Code merges into one the two previous Codes, updates the ISPs Commitments in light of new technological developments and brings the Code in line with the EU Regulation.

The new Code was published on 8 June 2016 and is built around four commitments which are complemented by guidelines of interpretation. The ISPs reiterate the right for users to access all lawful content on the internet. The conditions under which ISPs can manage traffic (e.g by slowing it down or blocking it) have been further contextualised and detailed. The new Code also sets a clearer distinction between non-internet access services (managed and alternative services) and the conditions under which these are provided to consumers now mirror the requirements of the EU Regulation.

Reference documents:

BSG Open Internet Code 2016

WIK – Review of the Open Internet Codes November 15

Extended Executive Summary of Review of the Open Internet Codes

WIK Launch Presentation

Open Internet Code (2012)