Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should treat all data on the internet the same, not discriminating or charging by user, content, site, platform or mode of communication. It is an idea that our internet connection should provide access to all websites in neutral and equal manner. It is the internet’s guiding principle to preserve our right to communicate freely online. In today’s world the internet has become a basic necessity for everyone just like water. Just like the way our phone companies shouldn’t decide who we can call and what we must talk on the call, our ISP’s shouldn’t be concerned with the content we view or post online. Moreover internet is the only thing that we get without any discrimination.
Without net neutrality, the ISP’s would carve the internet into fast and slow lanes such that we have to pay to access every single one of them. It is because the ISP’s could slow down its competitor’s content or could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for the required charges and everyone else to have a slower service. This would destroy the open internet. Let’s consider an example where a particular ISP has a tie up with Flipkart, hence it would provide a faster internet service only for it and in the case of Amazon it would slower its speed. At a stage users are forced to use only Flipkart just because the internet would be faster. Free and open internet stimulates ISP competition, helps prevent unfair pricing practices, promotes innovation, promotes the spread of ideas, drive’s entrepreneurship and most importantly protects freedom of speech. It is indeed our choice and not our ISP’s choice to control how exactly we use our 1GB 3G data pack. The loss of net neutrality would hurt us if we are a start-up or if we have a fledging internet business. For example Whatsapp would approach the ISP and have a tie up with them by giving money saying that to give people their website or service free and to charge the other network’s. Lack of net neutrality will also reduce the number of innovations on the web and also the new inventions. If there is no net neutrality we will have to deal with an extremely slow internet speed and ISP’s will charge more if we want to watch videos on YouTube or even there would be package plans just like we have for the set top boxes.
NET NEUTRALITY IN INDIA:
In India “The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India” (TRAI) is trying to form proper guidelines for the net neutrality. TRAI had invited opinions regarding the regulation of net neutrality from various telecom industry bodies and stakeholders. Moreover TRAI is planning to allow telecom operators to block apps and websites to extort more money from consumers. TRAI’s intentions must be to protect the rights of consumers and not think about the profit margins of telecom operators. Its time for India to have net neutrality, because in a bid to make up for the losing revenue, Airtel announced an extra charge on making VoIP calls. This is indeed violating net neutrality. In March 2015, TRAI released a formal consultation paper on Regulatory framework for Over-the-top services, seeking comments from the public. The consultation paper was criticised for being one sided and having confusing statements. On Feb 8th 2016, TRAI took a revolutionary decision, prohibiting telecom service providers from levying discriminatory rates for data, thus ruling in favour of net neutrality in India. However TRAI needs to come out with a set of clear and precise rules that protect the net neutrality.
WILL NET NEUTRALITY SURVIVE?
So there is a question, will the concept of net neutrality survive? It has survived so far because only few people realized the potential of internet and only few made use of it. But now the internet has become an integral part of the society and very important, ISP’s across the world are trying to get the power to take hold of it and make money out of it. But there are ways to keep the net neutrality alive. Consumers should demand that ISP’s must take care of the traffic as before without any charging. If consumers see a violation of net neutrality, they ought to take an approach and register their displeasure with the ISP or may be switch their ISP. Moreover every citizen have their rights to fight for their justice. If an ISP follows the principles of net neutrality we must switch over to that ISP.
I feel that net neutrality laws must be implemented in India before the telecom services start working against net neutrality. Internet has become a basic need for almost everyone in this world. It is not fair for the ISP’s to implement the plan of charging certain websites that do not have a tie -up with them just for their sake to make money. Moreover in today’s world there is nothing worse than having slower internet connections. In my point of view internet should be available free of cost for each and every citizen in this country from cosmopolitan cities to the rural areas. Most of the youngsters learn new things only through the internet and bring out new innovations. For example we can learn a lot from YouTube, if ISP’s are going to charge for the usage of YouTube just to share YouTube’s profit then there are a list of things that the society is going to lose. In fact such type of activities done against the laws of net neutrality is also a form of corruption. Most of the people are not aware about this issue and most of them do not bother at all. It is our right to fight against this and get our freedom to communicate. Hope TRAI frames a good set of rules to implement net neutrality.
In India the concept of net neutrality doesn’t exist legally. However, ISP’s try to moderately not violate any laws. They have approached TRAI for the losing revenues and are awaiting TRAI’s decision. Most decisions here are made by DOT and TRAI. It would be a better if we move on with things that are legal, while internet access in India is still at its infancy.