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How bad policy led South Korea into a Net Neutrality nightmare

When South Korea passed a law in May holding content providers accountable for bad service quality, it raised Net Neutrality red flags. In the months before the legislation, Facebook had pulled caches out of the ISP SK Broadband, switching to slower international servers. Around the same time, Netflix sued the ISP. The reason? SK was demanding large content providers money for peering with them. This is a rare occurrence in most of the developed world: ISPs are generally entrusted with giving users access to data with the money they are paid by their customers to do so, regardless of what that content is, or who accounts for how much traffic. Net Neutrality principles, on which the internet is built, are designed to protect content providers from such strong-arming tactics by ISPs; charging termination fees to content providers on top of charging customers for connectivity can lead to outcomes that hurt small and growing players. South Korea's case is particularly interesting because their current situation has been years in the making, even as the country holds the distinction of having among the fastest internet speeds in the world. In an online discussion held by Mozilla, a Korean law professor and co-founder of Open Net Korea KS Park described the factors that led to ISPs being able to coerce content providers into making payments to them at the cost of Net Neutrality principles. How it all started In 2016, South Korea implemented a Sending Party Network Pays model, Park said. Under this…

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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