Open Internet, Net Neutrality Rules and Blocking of Content

What is net neutrality

Net neutrality, or open internet, is a principle of equality of data transmitted over the internet. It prevents internet access providers from managing traffic and treating traffic, content providers or users unequally by favouring or restricting, slowing down or blocking access to selected websites or content, particularly to meet their business or marketing objectives. Neutrality also applies to the pricing of data transmission regardless of the content, type, source or recipient of data. Net neutrality, or the newly used term open internet rules, are basic principles for the internet to work as we know it, i.e. to offer unlimited access to all legal information and applications in a non-discriminatory way, to be a source of information and a means for innovation and development of society.

The net neutrality principles are regulated by Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 laying down measures concerning open internet access and retail prices for regulated communication within the Union and amending Directive 2002/22/EC and Regulation (EU) No 531/2012, as amended (the "Regulation"). These principles became part of the Czech and European legal order on 30 April 2016. In its part dedicated to the open internet, the Regulation imposes obligations on internet access service providers . In the Czech Republic, this refers to electronic communications undertakings offering and providing a publicly available internet access service.

The Regulation is a directly effective legal act, so it does not need to be transposed into the national legislation of individual Member States, including the Czech legal order. Article 5(3) of the Regulation requires BEREC to issue guidelines ("Guidelines") for the implementation of the obligations of national regulatory authorities in order to contribute to a consistent application of the Regulation across the European Union. The Guidelines, together with the Regulation itself, are the basic documents setting out rules for internet access services providers.

In the Czech Republic, CTU is the authority that oversees compliance with and enforces the rules set out in the Regulation within the scope of its competences, in accordance with the adaptation provision of the Electronic Communications Act. In accordance with Article 5(1) of the Regulation, CTU, as the national regulator for electronic communications, also prepares annual reports on the results of monitoring compliance with the Regulation.

Further information about net neutrality can also be found on the BEREC website here:

Regulations and documents related to net neutrality

Since the Regulation came into effect in 2016, the part dedicated to open internet has remained unchanged and has not yet been amended. Reference.

In the period immediately after the Regulation was issued, CTU prepared its own document entitled "The Statement of the Czech Telecommunications Office on Selected issues of Open Internet Access and European Net Neutrality Rules", in which it pointed to some specifics of the Czech environment and described how it would supervise the compliance with the obligations arising from the Regulation. This document was then amended in 2020 by Amendment No 1. During the Regulation's validity, the practice of applying the Regulation in the Czech Republic has become more established. At the same time, the BEREC Guidelines were updated. The text of the Guidelines is now sufficiently clear, and even considering the experience with the application of the Regulation and developments, the above-mentioned information document prepared by CTU is no longer up-to-date. The archived version is available for download in the section “File to download”.

The BEREC Guidelines have been amended twice since they were first published, in 2020 and in 2022 again. The first amendment was mainly to modify certain texts of the Guidelines based on lessons learned from the application of the Regulation in practice, in order to respond to developments and to contribute to a uniform interpretation of the provisions and subsequent consistent practice across Member States. The second amendment took place in 2022 following judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU"). Judgments C-34/20C5/20 and C854/19 of 2021 concerns the commercial practice of "zero rating". In its judgments, the CJEU declared this practice incompatible with the provisions of the Regulation.

The Guidelines are issued by BEREC in English, and CTU has published an unofficial translation into Czech language to facilitate their use in the Czech environment.

Blocking of illegal content on the Internet

The issue of blocking access to content on the internet relates to the issue of open internet. In general, the Regulation excludes content blocking, but provides for certain exceptions, specifically in Article 3(3) of the Regulation. These exceptions apply, inter alia, to EU or national legislation incl. decisions of courts or public authorities competent to order measures to prevent access to certain content on the Internet. Below, you can find the list of European and national legislation falling under these exceptions.

Preventing pro-Russian propaganda – EU Council Regulation

In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Council issued European Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 of 31 July 2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, as amended ("Regulation 833/2014"). Regulation 833/2014 is directly applicable legislation that imposes obligations throughout the European Union for the purpose of imposing restrictive measures against specific persons. In the context of preventing the spread of disinformation, this Regulation has been amended by Council Regulation (EU) 2022/350 of 1 March 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, Council Regulation (EU) 2022/879 of 3 June 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, Council Regulation (EU) 2022/2474 of 16 December 2022, amending Regulation 833/2014, concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine with Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/180 of 27 January 2023 implementing Council Regulation (EU) 2022/2474 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine, Council Regulation (EU) 2023/427 of 25 February 2023 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine and Regulation (EU) 2023/1214 of 23 June 2023, amending Regulation (EU) 833/2014 on restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine with Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2023/2081 of 28 September 2023, implementing Council Regulation (EU) 2023/1214, amending Regulation (EU) 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine.

The directly applicable Regulation 833/2014 prohibits in its Article 2f to broadcast any content by legal persons, entities or bodies listed in Annex XV of this Regulation. Also undertakings in electronic communications are considered to be obliged persons.

European Commission has published on its website a summary of the implementation of EU restrictive measures against Russia in relation to Ukraine (since 2014).

Regulation 833/2014 suspended broadcasting and licences of several media spreading disinformation in the EU. Restrictive measures against Sputnik and Russia Today (together with their subsidiaries such as RT English, RT Germany, RT France and RT Spanish) have been in place since 2 March 2022. Restrictions on other entities have been introduced from June 2022 (Rossiya RTR/RTR Planeta, Rossiya 24/Russia 24 and TV Centre International) and from December 2022 (Rossiya 1, NTV/NTV Mir, REN TV and Pervyi Kanal) and from 10 April 2023 (RT Arabic, Sputnik Arabic). The restrictive measures apply to all means of transmission and distribution in EU Member States, including cable and satellite television, internet protocol television, online platforms, websites and apps. In compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, these measures do not prevent these media and their staff from carrying out activities other than broadcasting, such as research and interviews in the EU.

Following the extension of Regulation 833/2014 of 1 March 2022, which now for the first time included restrictive measures against the dissemination of disinformation, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications BEREC published a statement on 11 March 2022 (the "Statement").

In connection with the blocking of content pursuant to Regulation 833/2014, CTU is empowered under Electronic Communications Act to supervise compliance with the obligations arising from the Regulation (net neutrality), and pursuant to Section 15 of the Act No. 69/2006 Coll., on the Implementation of International Sanctions, as amended to supervise compliance with the obligations arising from Regulation 833/2014. On the other hand, CTU is not authorized to issue any lists of specific sites to block.

National legislation

In the Czech Republic, certain laws also impose obligations on providers of internet access services to prevent access to some websites. These laws also fall within the exceptions under Article 3(3)(a) of the Regulation. As of 1 October 2022, these laws were:

  • Act No. 186/2016 Coll., on Gambling, as amended (List of illegal internet games here)
  • Act No. 378/2007 Coll., on Medicinal Products and on Amendments to Certain Related Acts (List of websites with illegal offer of medicinal products here, List of website with illegal veterinary medicine products here)
  • Act No. 146/2002 Coll., on the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority and on amendments to certain related acts, as amended (List of blocked websites here).


For technical implementation of blocking, CTU refers to the use of the procedure under the Gambling Act, specifically to the Methodology of Department 34 - State Gambling Supervision issued to implement Act No. 186/2016 Coll., on Gambling, which is one of the possible ways to block access to specific content.

CTU’s Reports on the results of monitoring compliance with Regulation (EU) 2015/2120

Czech Telecommunication Office as the national regulator for electronic communications in the Czech Republic issues annual reports in accordance with the Article 5 (1) Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 concerning the results of monitoring compliance for the period from May 1 to April 30 of the following year.

The report respects BEREC Guidelines on implementation of European net neutrality rules by NRA’s (especially points 182 and 183). The published assessment is based on updated and evaluated information. The report is submitted to the European Commission and BEREC.