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Effects of Network Neutrality on Human Rights

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Title: Effects of Network Neutrality on Human Rights
Author(s): Arimo, Hanna
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Discipline: Communication and information law
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2018
The research question of this thesis is about the effect of network neutrality on human rights. As network neutrality is a relatively difficult concept to define and there are several related concepts and practices, attention is also paid to how these different concepts and practices relate to network neutrality. These different practices include zero-rating, preferential agreements and traffic management practices like deep-packet inspection. These practices are analysed from the viewpoint of three different actors in the network neutrality relation: users, access providers and content providers. All three parties are, as evident from historic development, for the most part private actors with little involvement from public authorities. The human rights chosen for further analysis are freedom of expression, freedom of trade and industry and privacy. These particular rights were chosen because of the multitude of effects of different non-neutral practices, and because network neutrality affects the rights of different parties differently. The human rights are analysed mainly through the context of European Convention of Human Rights and the protections it affords, with comparisons to the United States Constitution. In addition to the three freedoms, effects on political rights and global politics are also discussed. The fourth chapter of this thesis discusses network neutrality regulation in the European Union and the United States of America, and how non-harmonised legislation is affecting human rights of individuals. Results of the research show support for calls of harmonised international regulation, as well as strengthened and expanded positive obligations of states to protect human rights within private relationships.

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