Posted in Net Neutrality

Laws and Legislation to ensure Freedom of Internet

Amongst the recent debates over Freedom of Internet and analysing Facebook’s strategies, it would be interesting to observe the various solutions adopted by countries around the world for ensuring a free Internet; for the purpose of inspiration and implementing a similar (or better) solution towards this problem!

The Net Neutrality debate has a global impact. In recent years, many countries have adopted regulations regarding the Internet, whereas some are still struggling. It would be appealing to know  that countries such as Chile and Netherlands, already have enforced laws specifically aiming to keep Internet at an equal availability, primarily desiring to maintain a balance between the user demands and industries. 

Let us take the example of European Union to better understand the scenario, as it appears to have achieved a Europe-wide net neutrality using certain regulations and standards. One of the most intriguing rules E.U. has adopted is the exceptions list to traffic management. Certain situations have been step aside where a network provide is allowed to perform actions such as

  • Blocking
  • Throttling (enhancing speeds for the particular service)
  • Degradation (diminishing access speeds to a service)
  • Discrimination (assigning higher priorities to certain service in comparison to others)

of data over the open Internet.

Following are the exclusive situations which entail the above mentioned acts:

  1. If ordered by law
  2. If the network is temporarily congested
  3. If threat of Cyber-Attacks

Also, E.U. has legalised the provision of better speeds to innovative services such as IPTV or Telesurgery on the condition that

  • these come on top of existing free Internet, but never used as a substitute.
  • their working does not affect the internet.
  • these services utilise the same protocols as the rest of the Internet.

As easy and small they may seem, the solutions are actually exhaustive. E.U. is well on their way to set up a standard level regulatory committees which ensure penalty in a state of violation.

Also, above mentioned solutions need not necessarily hold efficient throughout the globe, like in case of India, the network congestion issue is a much more frequent issue than the desire for allowing exceptional services as in the case of E.U. because such services are not a primary need for India in the near future.

Solutions will vary, based on the individual instances from country to country, however, it would be beneficial to establish a national level regulatory body for Internet and issues regarding the same. Such a body can not only guide the much needed direction but also ensure the fair practices are exercised and Internet is free for all.



Posted in Net Neutrality

Join Us in the Fight For Net Neutrality

The Blog

“Net Neutrality” is the simple but powerful principle that cable and broadband providers must treat all internet traffic equally. Whether you’re loading a blog post on, streaming House of Cards on Netflix, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your internet provider can’t degrade your connection speed, block sites, or charge a toll based on the content that you’re viewing.

Net neutrality has defined the internet since its inception, and it’s hard to argue with the results: the internet is the most powerful engine of economic growth and free expression in history. Most importantly, the open internet is characterized by companies, products, and ideas that survive or fail depending on their own merit — not on whether they have preferred deals in place with a broadband service provider. Unfortunately, the principle of net neutrality, and the open internet that we know and love, is under attack.

Net Neutrality under…

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Posted in Net Neutrality

Why Free Basics by Facebook is not as sweet as it seems!

A friend of mine recently argued “How does Free Basics violate the Net Neutrality? It looks like an excellent initiative, a charity to provide Internet to the underprivileged for free! Facebook is spending so much for the good of people! Isn’t it so?”

I wished to start with a series of points straight away, but decided on framing my words carefully, considering the impact Facebook brought upon my friend (and many people) by claiming to do charitable work with Free Basics.

First of all, let’s clarify the concepts, Free Basics by Facebook is an initiative to provide free basic Internet services to the people without any charges/free of cost. As good as it may seem, if carefully examined, one will observe the reasons why this concept is claimed to have violated the fundamental rights of freedom of Internet, otherwise termed as Net Neutrality.


Let us take a few points to understand how freedom of Internet is endangered:

  1. Free Basics allows our poors to access only a limited Facebook selected sites. It means Facebook will choose which sites to allow for Free Basics. Need I say more? Rings any bells? Directing users to visit a specific site, the primary breach of a Neutral Internet! This is what we fought for last year, isn’t it?
  2. A charity as it may seem, but Facebook will only allow itself and few other alliance websites. Probably, no access to Google, Tutorials Point etc. And how is that going to help people learn and grow? By poking each other on Facebook? I don’t think so!
  3. Taking into account the billions of dollars Facebook is making and if it really intends to use it for charity, why not allocate funds to allow 1 GB of Free Internet Data every month, to everyone of those underprivileged (some will argue it’s complex implementation) and allow them to explore every corner of Internet to learn and grow, instead of enslaving their access!? Yes, they are capable of doing that. But nope, they won’t.
  4. Let’s take the instance of Free Basics by Facebook on Reliance. Fine, Facebook doesn’t seem to have any monetary gains (at the moment) from this, but can same be said for Reliance? Obviously, Free access to Facebook without any data charges/cost will attract a large number of visitors to Reliance as compared to other companies, leading to a complex scenario. What if all companies start doing this, with different corporations (Flipkart with Airtel, like last year?)
  5. Facebook claims not paying the data charges under Free Basics to the network operator, but spends a large sum of money of Advertising this, along with operator name (Free Basics on Reliance,  seen on TV?) which drives the customer directly to operator leading to gains for network operator. Indirect payment? Avoiding cash?
  6. It’s misleading people into polls, where everyone is going with the flow, sending petitions to TRAI, without realising their mistakes. Facebook will use this support to claim the demand from TRAI which is an equally harmful situation.
  7. It’s just a strategy to compete with their rivalry, Google, so as to narrow down a large number of people to Facebook (but restrict access to Google) resulting in maintained high stock prices and huge profits to the company.

Above all of this, let us not forget that the Cyber World is a free place, where access to every corner is indispensable. Maintaining the Freedom of Internet/Net Neutrality is crucial. No one corporation should be allowed to reap benefits by restricting/controlling/managing/supervising the access to the content of the Internet. A Free World, a free Internet.

Posted in Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality : Free Internet or “a free Internet”?

Two weeks ago, I came across a notification on Facebook, some friends of mine sent messages to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) about Free Basics. It went further asking me to write my own! A lightning thought struck me, is this another trick to lure people into sending loads of messages to TRAI, affecting the decision of TRAI last year to maintain a Neutral Internet? The very next moment my inner voice said, Yes, it is!

It got me thinking, how imprudent people can be at times! These same people demanded “Net Neutrality” about a year ago, there were discussions, people wrote a million messages to TRAI along with some funny explanations as to why it should be maintained! But, the same ones are now writing messages to TRAI asking an action that violates the very essence of the freedom of internet? Even the officials at TRAI must be surprised as to what this populace really want from them!?

A simple idea of free access to basic internet services (although a very noble thought on Facebook’s part, or is it?) made people forget the logic, simply go with the flow as all of their friends are doing and initiate actions which will have drastic effects on the future of Internet access across the country!

In answer to why I will not send (and urge you to think before you act) any such message to authorities:

  • Facebook will use this support to show authorities that many people want a free basic access to Internet Service, i.e. Free Basics which infringes the NET NEUTRALITY and undermines the very concept of Freedom of Internet.
  • Recent offers of Free Basics by Facebook on Reliance demonstrates a very clear picture as to how it violates “a free Internet”. Obviously, the people will be attracted to Reliance for the same reason given the large number of people using Facebook  and especially, if they can get access without paying a dime.
  • This will entail a series of requests/complaints by other companies to TRAI for being partial just a few months ago regarding implementation of similar Free Access services resulting in increased complexities.
  • Finally, it will kickoff the demand for Over-The-Top service services influencing all network service providers to switch to similar strategies.

Next, we all are aware of the consequences. The very same warriors who fought the battle to save the Freedom of Internet shall turn out to be the ones who sold it!

And you cannot undo it! So, please, today I request all the members of cyber world, do not be fooled, do not sign petitions for a concept you were virulently against just a few months ago!

Recently, the Government banned Free Basics by Facebook on Reliance. So now, Facebook is involving  in a social dilemma with notifications like “The right to Free Basics is in danger in India…”, do NOT FALL for it.

Make choices carefully, examine not just instantaneous but also any future outcomes, what would you like, Free Internet, or “a freely available internet”!