New Delhi: Net neutrality, the recent buzz word of World Wide Web, has people of all beliefs and affiliations come together. Just everybody who has come to know about the issue, is campaigning, persuading and getting more people involved to stand in protest of it.
In a span of 24 hours, more than 27,000 emails have been sent to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) through the website savetheinternet.in, as a response to the regulator's call for public consultation of Net Neutrality.
If unknown, then here is all that you need to know about net neutrality
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality means Internet that allows everyone to communicate freely. It means a service provider should allow access to all content and applications regardless of the source and no websites or pages should be blocked, as long as they aren't illegal.
What is the state of net neutrality in India?
In legal terms, the concept of net neutrality doesn't exist in India but still Internet Service Providers (ISPs) adhere to the principle of net neutrality.
As quoted in a TOI report, Sunil Abraham, Director of Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, says that TRAI, which regulates the telecom industry, has tried to come up with some rules regarding net neutrality several times. For example it invited comments on the concept of net neutrality from industry bodies and stakeholders in 2006. But no formal rules have been formed to uphold and enforce net neutrality.
There have been some incidents where Indian ISPs have ignored net neutrality but these are also few and far between.
Will the concept of net neutrality survive?
Net neutrality is sort of gentlemen's agreement. It has survived so far because few people realized the potential of internet when it took off around 30 years ago. But now when the internet is an integral part of the society and incredibly important, ISPs across the world are trying to get the power to shape and control the traffic. But there are ways to keep net neutrality alive. One of the way regarding this could be consumers should demand that ISPs continue their hands-off approach from the internet traffic.
An online petition on change.org has nearly 150,000 supporters petitioning Union minister for communication and information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, the department of telecom, and the TRAI to act against the violation of net neutrality by corporate interests. A visit to the r/india forum Reddit will show you backroom activities in coordinating online campaigns and debates on the same.
Net neutrality in all across the globe
While the concept is new in India, the term net neutrality is quite familiar outside. People around the globe are much more aware of benefits and consequences of net neutrality. They are well informed about the facts and data related to net neutrality.
Here is a timeline of the landmarks in the net neutrality debate in India…
2006: TRAI had invited opinion regarding the regulation of net neutrality from various telecom operators.
February 2012: Airtel chief, Sunil Bharti Mittal, suggested that services like YouTube should pay an interconnect charge to network operators. In July same year, the company reiterated that large Internet companies like Google and Facebook should share their revenue with telecom companies for allowing their services for free to the users.
March 27, 2015: TRAI, published a 'Consultation Paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services' consultation paper, which is a 117-page document describing what net neutrality in India would mean and how it'll impact the way we consume the Internet today. The deadline for comments is April 24.
April 6, 2015: Airtel launched its open marketing platform, Airtel Zero, aimed at offering free access only to certain apps. The platform received flak for splitting the Internet into paid and free where Internet companies pay money to Airtel to allow users to get free Internet. While Airtel has widely defended its platform for being akin to the working of a toll-free number, where the caller doesn't pay but the company which uses the marketing tool does.
April 11, 2015: Comedy group AIB on YouTube, released a video decoding Net Neutrality and urging Indian netizens to support the cause and spread the word. The video was an instant hit and was shared by the general public as well as big celebrities. But on April 12, the YouTube links of the same video started getting deleted off by Facebook.