The Department of Telecommunications has released the final report on Net Neutrality. Excerpts from the report:
- The committee, headed by AK Bhargava recommends that the core principles of Net Neutrality must be adhered to
- The Committee on Net neutrality recommended- "user rights on the Internet need to be ensured so that Telecom Service Providers/Internet Service Providers (TSPs/ISPs) do not restrict the ability of the user to send, receive, display, use, post any legal content, application or service on the Internet, or restrict any kind of lawful Internet activity or use"
- The primary aim of public policy with regards to Net Neutrality must be focussed on developing and facilitating "affordable broadband', "quality broadband", and universal broadband" for everyone
- The report says that the Over-The-Top (OTT) services like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, etc should be encouraged and obstacles which hinder the growth of such platforms must be eradicated as soon as possible
- The best practices, followed internationally, along with core principles of Net Neutrality will help in formulating India specific Net Neutrality approach. India should take a rational approach and initiate action in making an objective policy, specific to the needs of our country. The timing for this is apt, taking into consideration the exponential growth of content and applications on the Internet
- There is a symbiotic relationship between expansion of broadband infrastructure through investment from the public as well as private domain. Consequently, innovation and infrastructure have to be promoted simultaneously and neither can spread without the other. The endeavor in policy approach should be to identify and eliminate actions that inhibit the innovation abilities inherent in an open Internet or severely inhibit investment in infrastructure
- Legitimate traffic management practices may be allowed but should be "tested" against the core principles of Net Neutrality. The general criteria against which these practices can be tested are:
a) TSPs/ISPs should make disclosure to the users about their traffic management policies and tools
b) Obstructive traffic management which is anti-competitive in nature may not be permitted
- Traffic management is complex and specialised field and a lot of capacity building is required before any such exercise is undertaken
- Content and application providers cannot be allowed to act as gatekeepers and use network operations to extract value in violation of core principles of Net Neutrality
- Capacity building through training, institution building and active engagement with stakeholders is vital. In order to deal with such complications of the modern digital world, a think-tank may also be set up
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is generally understood as a network principle of equal treatment of data packets moving across the IP networks. The concept has been used widely to describe the open and unbiased access to the internet.
Tim Wu, father of Net Neutrality, who also coined this term, describes it as "Network Neutrality is best defined as a network design principle. The idea is that the maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. This allows the network to carry every form of information and support every kind of application."