Netherlands law may force hotels to register as Internet service providers

NETHERLANDS Hotels that provide guest Internet access could be required to register as Internet service providers in the Netherlands, the country’s telecommunications authority says.

The Dutch Telecommunications Act requires “public electronic communications providers” to register with Netherlands telecom agency OPTA, and some within the agency believe that includes hotels. If hotels are required to register as ISPs, they would be subject to the European Union’s strict data retention guidelines.

The EU guidelines require communications providers to retain enough data to trace and identify the source, destination, date, time and duration of a communication for up to two years. Hoteliers would be required to track anyone using a hotel’s Internet connection, which would force many hotels to implement costly systems with comprehensive visitor login arrangements.

Horeca Netherlands, an organization representing the country’s hoteliers, tells IDG News that the effort amounts to a cash-grab on the part of OPTA. “Apparently, the crisis hit the telecom sector so hard that OPTA is looking for other sources to fund its activities,” a Horeca spokesman says.

EU officials are investigating whether OPTA is permitted to apply the new law to hoteliers.