Over the last few months, the issue of net neutrality has been hotly debated by Netizens. The deals struck for instance between Airtel and Flipkart, to provide free access to the e-commerce website, have attracted tremendous criticism for skewing the online market.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority is presently examining the issue, having issued a consultation paper that seeks public opinion on the issue (in particular, whether to license communication applications and services that run over the Internet). The Competition Commission of India and the Department of Telecommunications are also apparently examining the issue in order to determine whether any regulation is required to protect the ‘openness’ of the Internet.
Newsclick interviewed Rishab Bailey, Director Legal, Society for Knowledge Commons to discuss the issue of net neutrality and the importance of protecting the principle. Rishab in the interview talks about how protecting the principle is essential to maintain competition in the online space, ensure diversity of content and ensure all content is equally accessible. He points out how this is particular important for a developing country like India – which still does not create much local content. Rishab believes that the consultation issued by TRAI is nothing more than an attempt at putting in place an unworkable licensing regime, which will benefit incumbent telecom companies at the cost of both the user as well as content and application providers on the Internet.