Net Neutrality is the Internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online. This is the definition of an open Internet.
Net Neutrality means an Internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that Internet service providers should provide us with open networks — and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn't decide who you can call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn't be concerned with the content you view or post online.Those advocating Net neutrality believe all bits of data are equal, and, therefore, should not be discriminated on the basis of content, site or user. This has largely been the default mode since Internet started.
Telecom operators/ISPs are access services providers, and can control either how much you access, what you access, how fast you access and how much you pay to access content and services on the Internet.
It’s important for access to knowledge, services and free speech, as well as freedom and ease of doing business online, for this access to be neutral:
All sites must be equally accessible
Source : Consultation Paper On Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services/ Internet services and Net Neutrality : Release date: 27th March, 2015. Full version.
In the Indian context, there have been multiple consultations on the issue of net neutrality and related aspects. The following are the various initiatives taken by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI or Authority) as well as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on the subject.
The term "net neutrality" was coined to represent the idea that "a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites and platforms equally".
The basic design principles that have been instrumental to the development of the Internet were noted by the Authority in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariff for Data Service Regulations, 2016. They are summarized below :
Although the above-mentioned design features have been an essential part of the development of the Internet architecture, as technology evolves, some of these features are also undergoing a change.
In spirit, the idea that an Internet service provider should treat all content, sites and platforms equally is already encapsulated in the licensing terms and conditions applicable to service providers in India.
TRAIs Recommendations On Net Neutrality document recommends that T he Authority recommends that the terms of various license agreements governing the provision of Internet services in India (UL, VNO license, UASL and CMTS) be a mended in order to incorporate the principles of non - discriminatory treatment of content by Internet Access Services along with the appropriate exclusions and exceptions.