Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Is Net Neutrality an issue in India?

What is net neutrality?
To start with a very basic definition, ‘Net neutrality is the equality of all data traffic in the internet by a service provider’. To elucidate, data coming from different sources of the internet is not discriminated, no matter what it contains, where it is going or who sent it – all data packets are treated equally.
To ponder over it more, the application of this idea lies herein that, internet service providers cannot favour certain different websites and/or throttle traffic to other sites. Providing differential speeds on the same framework for different payments also constitutes a violation of net neutrality for that is then, again, discrimination of data.
How is Airtel violating net neutrality?
Airtel, has been the centre of the net neutrality controversy in India ever since it advocated the same in the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona in 2012. Since then, the Google partnership in 2013 for free access has stirred the controversy, with TRAI taking a diplomatic stance on the same. Google, had however advocated a neutral net strongly endorsing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s ‘Open Internet’ policy. Now, however, Airtel has gone a step further to exclude VoIP services from its usual data plans and charging extra for the same, later pulling it off due to impending TRAI consultation. Airtel, and other operators are advocating charging sites like YouTube, Twitter for the revenue they are generating through the ISPs, whilst inputting a meagre capital into the market; the ISPs rely on the argument that the sites are generating revenue because the ISPs are putting in capital towards the enhancement of network infrastructure whilst getting a disproportionate profit – the profit goes to the content providers. So, they demanded a share of the revenue.
Situation of law relating to net neutrality
Unlike the USA, India has an outright absence of law on the subject. USA provides the FCC to regulate the broadband services via Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, 1996 while however, their original ‘Open Internet’ rules had been declared ultra vires by the Supreme Court pursuant to the decision in Verizon v. FCC. In India, even though there is still no existing law or TRAI regulations on the matter, there are some important points to consider. Firstly, Bharti Airtel Ltd. is a consumer service provider and Bharti Infratel Ltd. is the telecom infrastructure provider, so the former should not concern itself with network infrastructure revenues in the first place. Secondly, Bharti Airtel, being a data provider, has a Universal Access Services License, which includes voice services and the internet – what is done over the internet is not their concern, whether VoIP or social networking. This unwarranted use of ‘deep packet inspection’ then again brings in the threat of privacy of data into the picture – why should Airtel concern itself with what you are seeing and how you are seeing? This discrimination of data and throttling of data is in a violation of the free speech enshrined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Pursuant to the decision in Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh, it is possible to subject private juristic persons to within constitutional purview without including them in the definition of State as in Article 12 if they perform a public duty, which maintenance of communications surely is. The ISPs should not be the gatekeepers of the internet and decide who you say what you say by blocking your lawful site – that is a fundamental blow to the foundation of how companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter came into being; startups will be destroyed having to lobby for different ISPs, like starting a new channel on TV with the same effect that charging a share of the revenue of the content providers will bring.

Airtel reported a 73.8% surge in mobile data revenue to ₹1,805 crore this FY, up from last year – indicating they are growing at a rate more than enough with net neutrality being in force without having to go all unethical.

Search debadattabose.com

Powered by Blogger.

Popular Posts