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Australia considers banning ISPs from listing internet speeds they cannot provide

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New Senate Sworn In At Parliament And Carbon Tax Key Item On Agenda Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images

The Australian government is considering a bill that would make it illegal for ISPs to falsely advertise high internet speeds. Under the proposed legislation, lying about internet speeds would become a fineable offense that could cost ISPs that violate the law up to $1 million AUD.

Andrew Wilkie, a member of Parliament who introduced the bill this week, told Motherboard, “People are getting worse than dial-up speed when they’ve been promised a whizz-bang, super-fast connection.” He described one person complaining to him that they were charged for a 25 Mbps download speed and a 5 Mbps upload speed, but they were getting less than one-tenth of that.

The proposed law would order ISPs to become more transparent about internet speeds and list typical speeds experienced by the average user, periods when internet traffic tended to be higher, and any other factors that could affect service.

Last November, the United Kingdom also added more advertising regulation, forcing broadband providers to list average speeds instead of top speeds.

The problem remains in the US, where consumers routinely experience falsely advertised internet speeds. Last February, New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman sued Spectrum for misleading customers by advertising speeds that it allegedly knew it was unable to provide. The lawsuit is still ongoing as the case proceeds to trial; this month, the New York Supreme Court rejected Spectrum’s motion to dismiss the suit.