While the net neutrality rules have expired in the US, India is taking a strong stance on free and fair internet access. On Wednesday, the government approved the principles of net neutrality that will ensure consumers get free and fair access to the internet.
Net neutrality lays ground rules for internet access being unrestricted, and non-discriminatory for the netizens. It ensures that your internet service provider does not discriminate between services that you use by offering faster internet lane for one website over other. The principles described in net neutrality only exempt new emerging technologies such as autonomous driving, tele-medicine or remote-diagnostic services, which might require faster than normal speeds.
The government says a committee will look into the possible exceptions for “critical services” that will keep the basic guidelines of net neutrality in view. “Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality – which come into effect almost immediately – will be met with stiff penalties,” telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told ToI. She added that an inter-ministerial telecom commission gave the go-ahead to net neutrality in the country.
Net neutrality has turned into a matter of internet once again with social media companies gaining greater control over delivery of content and telecom giants and internet providers acquiring companies that make content. This has led to fear that control in the hands of tech companies could lead to discrimination and prioritization of content from one platform over another.
By reinstating net neutrality rules in the country, the government is taking the control in its own hands. The reiteration will ensure that those who control the pipeline through which data flows do not throttle data speeds or favor one service over another. This should particularly feel reassuring after US, the world’s biggest internet economy and home of major tech companies, seems undecided on the future of net neutrality.
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The US FCC has already confirmed that net neutrality rules have expired, but the Senate voted in favor of keeping open internet rules. With net neutrality rules in place in India, mobile operators and internet service providers cannot engage or seek preferential treatment of content. The announcement also bars companies from creating zero-rated platforms.
“Where the net neutrality recommendations are concerned, we have already expressed our support on issues pertaining to non-discriminatory use of the internet, including no blocking, no throttling and adoption of same service-same rules. That said, we reiterate our earlier position that a light touch Regulatory approach should be adopted so that innovation is not hampered by the net neutrality rules,” said Rajan S Mathews, Director General of COAI in a released statement.