The United Nations Human Rights Council recognized the open and global nature of the Internet as “a force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms” and recognizes that a neutral Internet allows everyone to participate on equal terms. Until recently, Ecuador has been suportive of this directive. On August 2014, its former foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, declared that the world needs “ an international regime of binding regulations that accompanies the process of internet governance, with solid decisions about sensitive issues, such as protection of privacy, promotion of cyberpeace and eradication of cyberwarfare, neutrality of the web and the unequivocal protection of its open and distributed nature.”
However, as it is the case to most issues related to internet freedom, Ecuadorian foreign policy does not neccesarily reflect the indoor actions of its government. On December 2014, the National Assembly approved the new Telecommunications Act, which eliminated the concept of non-discrimination and replaced it with article 64 which allows ISPs to establish “tariff plans consisting of one or more services, or for one or more products of a service, in accordance with his or her authorization certificates.”
When the Act was approved, several civil society organizations expresed their concerns about the abuses that could be allowed by this bogus text which contradicts the general mandate of protecting net neutrality — as outlined in the objectives (art. 3) and principles (art. 4 and 66) of the Law. It was said at the time that all of this would be addressed in the the respective law regulations issued by the presidency. What was needed then was a very clear definition of net neutrality and an explanation of what was meant by the above mentioned article 64.
This week, the presidency made public the rule book for the TelCo Act and not only it missed a clear definition of net neutrality but reaffirmed that the only limitation of the tariff plans was their duty to clearly state the limitations of “any discounts, promotions or bonuses for purchasing services,” possibly due to users’ complaints after one of the local operators excluded whatsapp VOIP calls of its “unlimited” plan. Ironically, Augusto Espín, Minister of Telecommunications, said that ISPs must “guarantee net neutrality” when defending a zero-rating plan, the most pressing issue against net neutrality world wide.