The principle of net neutrality prevents a service provider from assuming a gate-keeper role over content and services, and allows everybody to access any website or service (or conversely offer any content or service to the public). Permitting service providers to act as gatekeepers of the Internet will stifle the plurality of content on the Internet, and stunt the growth of services and applications, especially start-ups.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recently published a consultation paper seeking the views of the public on permitting differential pricing for different data services, based on the content/websites accessed. Permitting the classification of users based on the content would have an adverse impact on the Internet ecosystem and could also create a digital divide in the country.
Proponents of differential rating point to how such platforms can be used to subsidise Internet access for the underprivileged. Here, we want to point out that there are numerous other net neutral models being used around the world to provide such subsidized access. We would urge TRAI to consider a net neutral model that does not have any harmful effects on competition and plurality of the Internet space.
It’s imperative for Indian netizens to get involved in this issue. The public consultation issued by TRAI ends on January 7, 2016 and we urge you to make your voice heard by sending an email to TRAI and register your support for an Open Internet (a proposed email format for consideration is available at http://www.savetheinternet.in/ and the emails should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with a cc to email@example.com).
Sameer Soman & Sudhir Tiwari
Managing Directors of ThoughtWorks India