Complete Net Neutrality in India. One step closer to the finish line. Towards yesterday evening we heard news that the Telecom Commission had among other things approved TRAI’s recommendations on net neutrality.
Last November, the TRAI made recommendations to expressly prohibit discriminatory treatment of content (more information here). The Telecom Commission is the highest decision-making body in the Department of Telecom. After it is approved, the decision is now left to the Union Cabinet. This is an important step that moves us closer to having comprehensive Net Neutrality protection in India.
While we are extremely happy with this decision we are doing so on the basis of a press interaction held by the Telecom Secretary day before yesterday on July 11, 2018 (read more from this Wire article which we are quoting below).
“The TC today approved net neutrality as recommended by TRAI. Now the licence agreements (with service providers) will be immediately amended and will be subject to principles of net neutrality,” telecom secretary Aruna Sundarajan told reporters while noting that some critical services would be kept out of its purview.”
We have previously advocated that exemptions such as, “critical services”, “specialised services”, or the possibility of intellectual property censorship remained in the TRAI recommendations. While they remain on the whole positive, such carve-outs can dent the promise of India’s leadership role, globally on the issue of comprehensive net neutrality regulations.
Further action, quick and transparent
While there is a tremendous reason for cheer, our victory on net neutrality needs to cross the finish line. Given pre-existing concerns that have been highlighted above, as well as the long period between November 2017 to July 10, 2018, we will continue to advocate for the following:
The Telecom Commission should release the agenda, minutes and the actual text of the decision it has taken in approving the recommendations of the TRAI on net neutrality.
The Union Government must indicate firm timelines/roadmap and act with urgency on this issue, by first publishing the actual text of the legal changes it is taking to implement the decision of the Telecom Commission.
We will continue working on the issue of Net Neutrality, corresponding and nudging the government in a direction that protects the free and open internet. Our work is possible due to donors who are supporting us in making sure we build greater strength to represent the public interest in issues of technology, policy and law.
Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) is a non-profit organisation that supports and advocates for a free and open Internet. We are a group of volunteers from the SaveTheInternet.in movement. We come from all over India, from different backgrounds and fields, including technology, law, policy, design, journalism. We aim to promote the rights of Internet users – freedom of speech, privacy, net neutrality and freedom to innovate.
- Apar Gupta, Trustee and Co-Founder (9990000256; [email protected])
Raman Jit Singh Chima, Trustee and Co-Founder (9717653293; [email protected]);
Internet Freedom Foundation online: