Internet must be open: TRAI backs net neutrality

Note4Students

Mains Paper3 | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Net Neutrality, TRAI

Mains level: This article talks about the recommendation given by TRAI with regard to net neutrality.


News

Context

  1. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended upholding the basic principle of net neutrality by keeping the Internet open and prohibiting any service provider from discriminating on the basis of content by either blocking, throttling, or “fast-laning” any apps, websites or web services.
  2. The recommendations follow a consultation process, after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sought TRAI’s views on the issue with an aim to “finalise a viewpoint” on net neutrality.
  3. The regulator’s proposal to adhere to the tenets of net neutrality comes days after the US Federal Communication Commission said it would repeal the 2015 laws that aimed at upholding this broad principle of neutrality.

Recommendations

  1. No one owns the Internet, so it should be open and accessible to everyone.
  2. Service providers have the power of becoming gatekeepers of the Internet but they should not indulge in doing so with this important platform
  3. The use of Internet should be facilitated in such a manner that it advances the free speech rights of citizens, by ensuring plurality and diversity of views, opinions and ideas.
  4. The recommendations also call for keeping Internet of Things (IoT) within the purview of non-discriminatory restriction, with the exception of critical services.
  5. TRAI has also suggested allowing telecom and Internet service providers to deploy “reasonable” traffic management practices from time to time, given that such interventions are proportionate, transient and transparent in nature.
  6. To monitor and investigate whether service providers are adhering to the rules, the regulator also suggested that a multi-stakeholder body be set up, led by industry, and comprising members representing different telecom and Internet service providers, large and small content providers, representatives from research, academia, civil society organisations and consumer bodies.

CDN exemption

  1. The regulator has also suggested exempting content delivery networks (CDNs) from the scope of net neutrality rules, arguing that CDNs add efficiency to the network by reducing latency, mitigating congestion and freeing up network capacity for other purposes.
  2. CDNs are a layer in Internet networks (outside public Internet), used by content generators to store their data at suitable geographical locations.
  3. Experts suggest that the CDN exemption could strengthen the position of integrated operators which also provide content.
  4. The proposed regulations are likely to give integrated operators an upper hand versus pure play connectivity providers.
  5. But according to telecom companies, CDN exemption would be taken care of by the regulator’s recommendation that the service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement, agreement or contract that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, sender or receiver, protocols or user equipment.

Concerns over Consultation process

  1. However, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said the suggestion to form a committee to review and decide on network management violations is “unnecessarily bureaucratic”, and not in keeping with “light touch regulation or the ease of doing business”.
  2. The DoT is already well positioned to investigate any violation of license conditions and it already has all the necessary enforcement mechanisms in place.
  3. Hence, such a heavy-handed approach is not necessary, as is now being proposed by TRAI.

 

 

Net Neutrality & The Debate Around It
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