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Updated : 29/02/2016

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Internet access

Internet connection

Wherever you are in the EU you must be able to access electronic communication services of good quality at an affordable price - including basic internet access. There must be at least 1 internet provider who can provide this service for you. This is known as the 'universal service' principle.

To find out more, contact the national regulatory authorities in your country. They will put you in touch with your universal service provider.

Sample story

Jack moved to a remote part of the Scottish countryside and wanted to get an internet connection in his new house there. After several companies had told him their networks didn't cover his area, he finally found out who the universal service provider was in Scotland. He contacted this company, which provided him with an internet connection.

Subscriptions to internet providers

Your internet provider must give you information on:

  • applicable prices, rates and charges, including options and packages
  • standard terms and conditions
  • quality of service (for example, download speeds).

Sample story

Laura from Romania wanted to get an internet connection at home, but wasn't sure about the quality of services provided by the various packages on offer.

Luckily - as required by law - all the service providers gave sufficient details on their websites. And Laura was able to get even more information from the Romanian national regulatory authorities for electronic communications.

The internet provider must also:

  • notify you well in advance if they want to change the contract (for example, raise their rates)
  • allow you to withdraw from the contract without penalty if you don't accept any of the new conditions
  • offer reasonable minimum contract periods – a contract for an initial period equal to or shorter than 12 months; contracts that exceed 2 years are illegal.

Sample story

Eric wanted to get an internet connection in his flat during his 1 year stay in London on a university exchange - but was told by several providers that the minimum subscription time was 2 years.

After consulting the national authority for electronic communications and finding out about his rights, Eric contacted the providers again and was able to get a subscription for 1 year only.

Special support for disabled users

If you are a user with disabilities, you are entitled to the same range and choice of services enjoyed by the majority of consumers.

You may also be eligible for special accessibility devices from your service provider - such as magnification software or a screen reader, if you are visually impaired.

Your national regulatory authorities might be able to provide you with more details as regards these accessibility rights.

Sample story

Véronique, from France, is partially sighted and needs special assistance to read websites.

On a tip from a friend, she contacted the French universal service provider to enquire about getting a screen reader. The provider delivered the software Véronique needed.

Data protection and security

Your personal data must be adequately protected.

You are entitled to:

  • be informed if any person or company is holding your personal data in their files (websites, databases, service providers, etc.)
  • be fully informed and give your agreement if a website wishes to store and retrieve information from your computer or to track you when you're online (for instance using cookies)
  • be notified if your personal data held by a service provider has been lost, stolen or otherwise disclosed, and your privacy is likely to be adversely affected
  • correct or delete your data if it is incomplete or inaccurate
  • not be sent unsolicited advertising (spam).
  • confidentiality of online communication (e.g. e mails)

Sample story

Maria from Spain spends a lot of time chatting with friends on the internet. But after seeing some stories in the news, she began to get a bit worried her service provider could be tracking her messages.

A quick check on the website of the Spanish data protection authority reassured Maria about her right to confidentiality while online, what her service provider could or could not do with her personal data, and related practical issues such as the use of cookies.

 

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