What is Net Neutrality – Initiative to Save The Internet
Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination or preference given to any particular type of content, website, or user. This means that internet service providers (ISPs) should not be able to charge different rates or provide faster or slower access to certain types of content.
For example, imagine that your ISP offers a streaming video service that competes with Netflix. Without net neutrality, the ISP could charge you more for accessing Netflix or slow down your access to the service to make its own service look better. This could create an unfair advantage for the ISP and harm competition in the marketplace.
With the rise of wireless broadband, the debate intensified and created major differences in perspectives. While the debate is going on globally, India’s TRAI has sought recommendations (for the first time from the general public and not just the industry) by circulating a consultation paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services, seeking comments from the public.
The buzz about Net Neutrality increased when Airtel, India’s leading telecom carrier, launched “Airtel Zero”, a platform designed for partnering with various Internet-based companies to generate revenues. There has been a significant furore in the public domain and a campaign against Airtel Zero, leading to the company’s withdrawal from the program.
Why is net neutrality important?
Net neutrality is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it helps to promote innovation and competition on the internet. Without net neutrality, ISPs could prioritize certain types of content or charge extra fees for access to certain websites or services, which could stifle innovation and harm small businesses and startups.
Net neutrality is also important for free speech and access to information. The internet has become an essential tool for communication and the exchange of ideas, and without net neutrality, ISPs could potentially block or censor certain types of content or websites that they disagree with.
Finally, net neutrality is important for consumers. Without net neutrality, ISPs could charge extra fees for access to certain websites or services, which could make the internet less accessible and affordable for low-income households.
Threats to net neutrality
Despite the importance of net neutrality, it has been under threat in recent years. In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States voted to repeal net neutrality rules that had been put in place in 2015. The repeal of these rules effectively allowed ISPs to prioritize certain types of content or charge extra fees for access to certain websites or services.
The repeal of net neutrality rules was met with widespread criticism from advocates of a free and open internet, as well as tech companies, consumer groups, and even members of Congress. Many argued that the repeal of net neutrality would harm competition, innovation, and free speech on the internet.
Efforts to save net neutrality
Despite the repeal of net neutrality rules, efforts to save net neutrality are still ongoing. Several states in the United States have passed their own net neutrality laws, which aim to restore the principles of net neutrality at the state level. In addition, several lawsuits have challenged the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality.
There are also efforts underway to pass federal net neutrality legislation in the United States, which would codify the principles of net neutrality into law and provide a more permanent solution to the issue.