Equality for All Netizens
Of late there have been efforts to have different rates for Internet users depending on inconsequential matters like difference in content, difference in destition, differences in application platforms and so on. Mark Zuckerberg was even trying to push Facebook’s Free Basics mobile service to new users of Internet in India. However, all such attempts to apply discrimitory pricing based on application platforms have been scuttled by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). TRAI has ruled in favour of Net neutrality by barring differential pricing for data packages. TRAI chairman Ram Sewak Sharma recently announced that a new set of regulations were to come into effect immediately and said, “No operator may apply discrimitory pricing based on application platforms, website or source.” The announcement has been warmly welcomed by supporters of Net neutrality who are happy that TRAI had filly acknowledged that the zero-rated mobile services like Free Basics and Airtel Zero could cause irreversible damage to the concept of an open Internet by distorting the dispersion of content. In 36 countries, Facebook’s Free Basics service offers free access to a limited number of websites for news and information—like the BBC and Wikepedia—for weather and health. Supporters of Net neutrality have raised a storm of protest arguing that data providers should not have the privilege of favouring some online content feeds over others. TRAI has done well to abolish all differential pricing and has even stipulated pelties ranging from Rs 50,000 a day to Rs 50 lakh for violators of its new regulations that might be reviewed after two years.