The Internet has become so much a part of our lives that it is easy to imagine that it will always remain the free and open medium as it is now. We’d like to believe it will remain a place where we can always access any lawful content we want, and where the service providers delivering that content can’t play favorites because they want to charge more money for faster delivery. Network neutrality should be maintained.
Net neutrality means that Internet service providers should provide us with open networks — and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. It prohibits the owner of a network, that holds itself out to all-comers, from discriminating against information by halting, slowing, or otherwise tampering with the transfer of any data (except for legitimate network management purposes such as easing congestion or blocking spam).
Why would the telecom companies want to interfere with Internet data? Answer: Profit and other corporate interests. Companies might also interfere with speech that makes them look bad, block applications that compete with their own, or increase their profit by forcing developers to pay more to avoid having their data blocked or slowed down. I am worried. On one fine morning, I may not be able to access my blog due to very slow speed of internet for accessing my blog!
New technologies now allow telecom companies to scrutinize every piece of information we send or receive online – websites, email, videos, Internet phone calls, or data generated by games or social networks. And they can program the computers that route that information to interfere with the data flow by slowing down or blocking traffic and communicators that they don’t like and speeding up traffic they do like or that pays them extra for the privilege. Here’s a nice article on Medianama countering every argument of Airtel against net neutrality.
Save the internet! Yesterday, I joined others by sending an email to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) through the website savetheinternet.in responding to the regulator’s call for public consultation. Times of India reported that over 27,000 emails have been sent through this website in last 24 hours. An online petition though change.org has nearly 150,000 petitioning the Union minister and TRAI to act against violation of net neutrality.
Internet should be treated as an essential utility, like water. Without water, we die. Without access to the internet, our access to knowledge dies. We need both to survive and thrive. The Internet must remain a forum for innovation and free expression. Open, affordable, fast and universal communications networks are essential to our individual, social, intellectual, economic and political futures.