People who think of advanced nations may think of India as something that’s starting to rise in terms of science and technology, and it appears India has scored victory with net neutrality with its new legislation. In fact, India may now have a law that bans any form of data discrimination – but how will this affect the nation?
India has just approved a new set of rules that may ban “any” kind of data discrimination, scoring a victory for net neutrality. This is courtesy of the Department of Telecommunications in India, which had just approved net neutrality rules that specifically deal with zero-rating, throttling, and block internet data with banning.
This move appears to be a culmination of a years-long campaign to push for a new age of net neutrality in the nation, which began as a framework published in 2017. The framework, initially a recommendation courtesy of folks from India’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI), may finally see the light of day.
The new telecoms ruling will effectively prevent any form of “interference and discrimination” in terms of data, which includes treating content with “granting preferential speeds, slowing down, degradation, or blocking.” The only time these rules won’t apply will be during times of “specialized” or critical Internet-of-Things services, which include remote surgery and autonomous vehicles. R. S. Sharma, TRAI head, said this is akin to ambulances getting a pass to disobey rules of traffic. In the case of the new telecoms regulation, they get priority in order to maintain the quality of their service.
This extends to internet service providers (ISPs), wherein they have to agree to such a deal whenever they sign up for licenses with the Department of Telecommunications. Should they violate these terms, they risk cancelling their licenses.
The conception of these policies already began as early as 2015, when the TRAI called for the public to comment on possible internet regulations they may want to see in the future. A lot of those who commented are internet users and activists that showed favor towards net neutrality, especially when two (2) companies in the nation told the public of zero-rating plans. These plans, critics fear, might give American companies an edge versus local companies – an example at the time was Internet.org from Facebook, which offered free access to particular data services in other nations in the world.
Interestingly, India’s new net neutrality policies are in stark contrast with recent regulations by the United States. In the US, net neutrality rules were actually in a state of repeal. And despite some states starting to form their own legislation to compensate, India has now become a “world leader” of sorts when it comes to having a good net neutrality policy.
Some even call the new legislation the “most progressive policy” worldwide when it comes to equal internet access.
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