The case of Net Neutrality
Well provided that you are reading this page, you are an internet user. That’s reason enough for you to demand net neutrality. Oh and also if you want equality, fairness and justice. Don’t be offended by the title though as things are getting much more serious online.
Note: The extensive use of Airtel as an example was purely deliberate. And this can get pretty dystopian.
So here are the aspects of the whole debate over net neutrality to consider before you leave this page (got ya, haha).
Zero-Rating Services, the Unnecessary Evil
This is actually a sweet sweet treat to us common users. But there’s more beyond the sugar-coated wall. Big telecom company, Airtel, proudly launched their “Zero Plan” which offers free access to Internet applications, even to those who do not have a mobile data plan.
However, Airtel receives a small fee from all of these internet applications that are ready to offer their services. And not every application or service on the Internet can afford to be paying a big player like Airtel. Therefore, these magnanimous application providers will dominate the web experience for all users. Although it is great that this way under-served communities get to enjoy the benefits of the World Wide Web, this policy widely goes against the principle of Net Neutrality and is simply not the fair approach.
Fast Lanes, Where the Unfairness Starts
Imagine you had to pay for people to listen to you speak. That’s exactly what fast lanes intend to perform. Internet services and applications that are now multibillion dollar business are paying service providers like Airtel for their sites to load faster so users prefer using these platforms over others. This can gravely harm the growth and viability of upcoming entrepreneurs and start-ups. This also seriously causes limitations to your preferences and forces you to compromise.
Data Discrimination- Poor Data!
Let’s face it, any discrimination is not good. The rules of net neutrality revolve around the moral value that all data on the internet should be treated equally, not discriminating or charging deferentially by user, application or site. This is not just indirect discrimination of users, creating more room for VIPs, but also harms economic freedom and competition. This means there will be no more awesome new sites like Flipkart because there will always only be Flipkart. Oh and your dreams of turning into a multimillionaire with your online start-up will crush in an instant.
It’s Really Important that You Care, like REALLY
The internet is a platform for free expression and communication. You have a fundamental right to access the internet. You also have a fundamental right for people to reach your own original content on the Internet just like your right to free speech. If there’s no net neutrality, the internet will turn into a virtual corrupt Indian society.
India is a democratic country. Not to bore you with 5th grade civics or anything, but your opinion has an equal and weighed say in the policies of the nation. So know your sh*t and join the movement!
Mark Zuckerberg’s Defense
One thing you need to know about, now that you care a little more about the Internet is Mark’s successful internet.org, which is a charitable partnership between Facebook and seven other mobile phone companies including Reliance to give affordable access to the Internet to less privileged areas and communities around the world. And how is this a bad thing? You guessed it, it does not support net neutrality.
Mark defends his online organization saying that Net Neutrality shouldn’t come in the way of Charity. Like what? Excuse me? If net neutrality didn’t exist in 2000, Facebook never would have existed. So sorry Mark, that’s not convincing enough.
Innovation is key to improving the lives of India’s billions of citizens, not social inclusion. So while Mark’s generous intention is helping out underprivileged people to enjoy the benefits of the Internet, it’s just not playing things right in India.
We’re not going to lie here. There have been claims, opinions and thoughts over how a pro-net neutrality approach has loopholes and backfires. But what do you honestly think makes more civic sense? An internet divided up into sectored sites used by sectioned people or an open internet where all data and content are treated equal? You take the call. You free the net.
You’ve got 24 hours to take your freedom back. All you’ve got to do is go to http://www.savetheinternet.in/ and send an email (which is already written for you) to TRAI.
No post is complete without a hash-tag. And certainly not this one.