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Another win for Internet, Net neutrality is upheld in the world’s biggest democracy – India

February 9, 2016 1 comment

After nearly a year-long consultation with the public and telecoms, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has finally announced their stand this evening barring content discrimination and differential pricing. This development has come after the direct effect netizens of India rallying up to protect the level playing field of Internet.¬† A major credit for this victory should go to the people behind savetheinternet.in who created awareness and helped people respond to TRAI on its consultation. This is not an ordinary victory for the people of this democracy as the telecom companies were fiercely lobbying against any net neutrality rules and huge corporates like google, who were found to be silently lobbying against net neutrality in India, and facebook’s own Internet.org which changed its name to free basics after criticisms pointing out they were neither charity nor the entire Internet. TRAI has asked reliance communications, the country’s only provider of facebook’s free basics to suspend providing free basics to users earlier this month. Facebook spend millions of amounts for advertising free basics with billboards everywhere, full-page advertisements in the newspapers and attractive television advertisements, it also made use of its user base unethically to lobby for it, a move which was later criticized by TRAI. Today TRAI has taken a stand officially to prohibit content discrimination and differential pricing,with the exception of emergency services. Full official report can be read¬† in TRAI’s official report here. The guidelines released are,

  • No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content.
  • No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged to the consumer on the basis of content
  • A service provider may reduce tariff for accessing or providing emergency services, or at times of grave public emergency, provided it is reported to TRAI within seven days and the authority approves it.
  • TRAI may review these regulations after a two years or after a period TRAI may deem fit.
  • TRAI may also levy a penalty of 50,000 Rupees up to a maximum of 50 lakh Rupees if any service provider is found contravening these regulations.

Indeed a day to celebrate. Though the battle is won, the war is not won yet with major private corporations and governments wielding more and more control into the daily lives of the people, there must be a similar fight to liberate the people from the surveillance of the governments and from the clutches of these corporations. For only free thinking and informed citizens can uphold this democracy.