Tl;drWe all know the basic problem in India. Quite often we make great laws, but their enforcement does not happen. The TRAI is *finally* trying to fix this on Net Neutrality. Despite having clear rules, we still do not have any enforcement mechanism. The first step in this is removing existing ambiguities, introducing a monitoring framework and then imposing penalties. The TRAI has taken a positive step towards fixing this by releasing a recent consultation paper. Read on for our summary and how you can participate!
Net neutrality has been a long enduring bond more than a million forged with the #SaveTheInternet.in campaign. Through it, they petitioned the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), a regulatory body which was instrumental in making rules and recommendations to protect the open internet. Quite simply, it protected user choices and ensured people like you were not left left to the mercy of large telecom companies who are Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
The Net Neutrality rules today prevent ISPs from choosing to charge you additionally or slow down your access to your favourite websites because their owners do not pay such ISPs extra money. In short, this is a massive win for internet users and the open internet. This has been a long time coming and we have documented this history in a separate explainer.
However, despite clear rules that last came in September, 2018 to prohibit ISPs from both distorting traffic (slowing down your favourite online services) and in April, 2016 on pricing (charging you on the basis of websites you access), we still do not have any enforcement. This is why we had relaunched the SaveTheInternet.in in March, 2019 and petitioned TRAI and the nodal central government ministry, the Department of Telecom to begin monitoring for violations, create an enforcement framework and also to take interim action against website blocking.
TRAI on Jan 2, 2020 released a consultation paper titled as the, “Traffic Management Practices (TMPs) and Multi-Stakeholder Body for Net Neutrality." The comments on it are due by Jan 30, 2020 and there is a further counter-comment period till Feb 13, 2020 (yes, just one day before Valentine’s day!). Comments should be sent to Sh. Asit Kadayan by email at [email protected] So let us show our love for the internet by participating in this consultation.
We are especially enthused by TRAI's clear statement which recognises the value of civil society and voices when it notes that, “Civil society organizations may also be the part of MSB as they engage in advocating the public’s rights and wishes of the people, including but not limited to health, environment and economic rights. They fulfil the important duties of checks and balances in democracies, they are able to influence the government and hold it accountable.”
How do you participate? And more!
- Send in your comments: Even though we do not have an online submission form this time, we have shrunk down this 34 page consultation paper to a 6 page capsule. While many of the issues are technical, effective and wide comments should definitely be made by you and we believe your voice should be heard. We encourage you to read the summary, share and adapt it in any way you may like!
- Help IFF take a position: We have from the very beginning relied on the expertise of our leadership and staff that has been strengthened by public feedback and inputs. Here you can help IFF take a strong position on Net Neutrality. We are especially looking for technical experts, network engineers and academics to provide us considered thought to help further the cause of #SaveTheInternet. So shoot us an email at [email protected]
- Sign the, “Take Action” Petition: While such enforcement frameworks are being devised and will take time, there exist clear breaches of net neutrality in the form of illegal website blocking by ISPs. This is the clearest form of existing violations of binding license regulations. Join more than 3000 people who have signed on and are asking for immediate action and remedy at SaveTheInternet.in in the meanwhile. You can support this campaign by signing on!