In today’s world, Internet is an indispensable tool in the hands of the people, be it for socializing or for work. To make the most of internet, it is important that all the data and content available on it should be treated in the same manner. This is where net neutrality comes in.
The principle that all the data on the internet should be treated equally by the government and the Internet Service Providers is known as net neutrality. It says that the content should not be discriminated against and also should not be charged differentially on the basis of type of content, site, user, platform or mode of communication.
Internet service providers have the power to control access to online content, control what the user is accessing, how fast can the content be accessed and the price the user has to pay to access the service or the content. The principle of net neutrality prevents the Telecom operators/ internet service providers from misusing this power.
Net neutrality aims at protecting internet users’ right to communicate online without any restrictions. It demands that the service providers must provide the users open networks without blocking or discriminating content and all the legal content and applications should be available to the user on an equal basis.
According to the principle of net neutrality, the service providers should not favour some web-based products or services and block others. Also, the internet service providers should not deliver some content through “fast lanes” and deliberately slow down other content.
Why do we need net neutrality?
Some ISPs in India have been arguing that they should be allowed to charge companies for Over the Top services. The ISPs want a share in the profit made by these services. Without net neutrality, telecom operators and Internet Service Providers will have the power to shape the internet traffic in a way which will prove to be beneficial for them.
Without net neutrality, the ISPs will be able to block access to certain services or websites. Also, they may slow down the content or speed it up in order to favour certain websites, whichever proves to be more profitable for them.
Also, the ISPs may provide services on the basis of paid prioritization. This means that the websites which do not pay a fee might be put in the “slow lane.”
Instead of free access to all legal content, telecom companies may offer their customers “package plans.” This means, the customer may only access the sites included under the plan and may have to pay more for accessing websites not included in the plan they have purchased.
Why is Net Neutrality important for online businesses and internet entrepreneurs?
In the present times, most of the organizations rely on internet for various purposes including marketing and promotions, sales, operations management, connecting with clients and more. Absence of net neutrality will give an unfair advantage to big companies who pay the telecom firms to deliver them the fastest services. The companies which have lesser resources will be left in the “slow lane.”
Net Neutrality in India
In India, owing to excess lobbying by telecom operators, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is planning to permit them to block websites and applications in order to earn more profit from both businesses and consumers. A consultation paper with 20 questions has been released by TRAI. The answers have to be sent to the agency through email by 24th April, 2015. This has given rise to widespread protest to save net neutrality.
Net Neutrality at a Global Level
In U.S., the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favour of net neutrality on 26th February, 2015. It reclassified broadband access as telecommunication service and applied the Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to Internet service providers. Details of the new net neutrality rule were released by the FCC on 12th March, 2015. The final rule on FCC’s new regulations were published later on 13th April.
Other pro net neutrality nations are Chile, Brazil and The Netherlands. The issue is receiving a lot of support from celebrities, businessmen as well as from the public.
At Brio, we extend full support towards the on-going fight for net neutrality. Equal access to all content on the internet is necessary for individual users as well as business houses.