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India approved strong net neutrality rules

13 July 2018

A separate committee has been set up under the DoT to examine what these critical services will be.

India's Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body in the telecom ministry, has approved net neutrality recommendations proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Part of the deliberations in the upcoming meeting were also on the hotly-debated topic of net neutrality, recommendations for which were made by the regulator and were approved as they were by the Telecom Commission.

Under the Indian-specific laws, the Times reports that mobile operators, internet providers, and social-media and internet companies can not engage in, or seek, preferential treatment.

"Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality - which come into effect nearly immediately - will be met with stiff penalties", Department of Telecommunications secretary Aruna Sundararajan told The Times of India.

The regulator had said, "Internet access services should be governed by a principle that restricts any form of discrimination or interference in the treatment of content, including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content".

The Department of Telecommunications didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Providers are also prohibited from providing zero-rated content.

India's fight for net neutrality began in 2015, says technology analyst Prasanto K Roy. The most visible casualty was Facebook's Free Basics service, which offered Indians free access to a limited number of websites.

"The internet today is a great platform for innovation, startups, banking, government applications such as health, telemedicine, education and agriculture", TRAI's chairman, RS Sharma, said at the time.

Pahwa was at the forefront of India's first battle to preserve net neutrality in 2015, when Facebook's plan to provide free internet to hundreds of millions of Indians came under enormous public pressure.

The Senate is meeting to revive net neutrality, but chances are Trump Republicans will back the FCC and net neutrality will die.

Internet service providers who break the rules could lose their licenses to operate in India.

Do internet service providers have a right to throttle certain traffic?

India approved strong net neutrality rules