Net Neutrality - Concept and outcome of curbing it

Net Neutrality – Concept and outcome of curbing it

Question - Net neutrality plays an important role in promoting democracy on the internet. Discuss the concept of net neutrality and what would happen if net neutrality is removed.

Internet allows people to connect and exchange data freely and this is based on the concept of net neutrality.

Concept of Net Neutrality

• This concept is derived from the way telephone lines work - you can dial any number and connect through it

• Similarly, users online can click any link and access any site

• When the internet commenced in the 1980s and 1990s, internet service providers were asked to follow the same principle; this was easy as telecom operators were also ISPs

• ISP does not control the traffic passing through its servers and user gets the same speed no matter which website/service he/she connects to

• Web users have the freedom to connect with any site or service because ISPs currently do not control the kind of content flowing from their servers

• Internet has therefore expanded into a truly international network where people have the freedom to express themselves

• Net neutrality has established a level playing field on the internet; it has also boosted the success of services such as Google and Twitter

• ISPs believe they should be allowed to charge companies for services such as YouTube as these services involve the use of more bandwidth compared to a normal website

• ISPs also want to share in the money YouTube and other such sites make through the abolishment of net neutrality

If net neutrality is removed

• If net neutrality is removed, ISPs will possess the power as well as inclination to shape traffic on the internet to derive additional advantages from this

• If net neutrality is eliminated, internet will not exist. In the absence of free internet access, package plans would exist for consumers wherein those paying a certain amount would access domestic websites. For accessing international sites, additional money would have to be paid

• There can also be different connection speeds for varied content and this depends on the amount being paid for the service and the add on package one has purchased

• Lack of net neutrality will also prevent innovation on the web as bigger companies will be able to provide more speed or more varied content

• Internet will change into web with silos and for entering each silo, some tax will have to be paid to the ISPs.

Net Neutrality in India

• The concept of net neutrality does not currently exist legally in India

• TRAI, the regulatory authority has issued a consultation paper on net neutrality

• It has previously tried to come up with rules regarding net neutrality

• No formal rules regarding net neutrality currently exist in India

• ISPs in India however continue to adhere principles of net neutrality

Facts and Stats

• US FCC has approved landmark rules preventing users from being placed in slow and fast internet traffic lanes; plan prohibits service providers from creating blockages to lawful content and slowing one service to support a rival

• EU and India are now examining the possibility of doing away with net neutrality which could create problems for startups and consumers alike

• The European Council made of 28 national governments of EU members have adopted a proposal for enabling telecom companies to charge internet businesses such as Google fees to deliver content faster to others; this gives big companies more advantages

• The European proposal has been opposed by official sources as well; European Parliament voted last year for legislation akin to FCC rules
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