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Network Neutrality Toolkit


Network Neutrality is, simply put, one of the bulwarks of the existence of the internet as we know it. It is one of the major reasons for the freedom that the internet provides, the freedom that has revolutionised the world and ushered in the ‘Information Era’. We have covered this issue in our previous posts here and here. This post essentially intends to create a toolkit/primer for Network Neutrality, for anyone who wishes to understand the concept better. For that purpose it provides links to follow up on the various parts of the debate, links to relevant documents as well as explanatory documents, and methods to respond to TRAI or contact your MP. To be fair to the debate, argument for and against Network Neutrality have both been included.

As I had mentioned in my previous post, even though Network Neutrality is not an issue directly related to Intellectual Property, it is a concept so deeply rooted into the internet that it directly or indirectly affects everyone connected to the Internet. The Internet as it exists, and all the services associated with it, such as the Internet of Things, is fundamentally crucial for the increasingly interlinked concepts that we benefit from on a regular basis, and play a fundamental role in connecting people, ideas, access to knowledge, and innovation.  The potential of the Internet in this regard is amazing – but it is not unique. The same dreams were entertained by the proponents of almost every form of media (even if not with the hopes of being as efficient in this regard as the Internet has proven to be) over the last century , including what we now understand as the telephone, the cinema, the radio and the television. They all fell flat on their faces when the networks in question were monopolised, changing them so much that they hardly represent the same ideas in the minds of the people anymore. It is this monopolisation that network neutrality stands in the way of. It ensures that the content that flows through the internet’s ‘highways’ (and I use the term broadly) is not controlled by those who own these highways.

Of course, what must be noted here is that absolute network neutrality is not a beneficial concept either. A certain level of discrimination is necessary for the network to function optimally. This is perhaps best put forth by Barbara van Schewick, in her paper Network Neutrality and Quality of Service – What a Non-Discrimination Rule Should Like, wherein she argues that while application-based discrimination should be banned, application-agnostic discrimination is necessary for providing a good quality for service.

(Image Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/17/net-neutrality-gone_n_4611477.html?ir=India)

(Image Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/17/net-neutrality-gone_n_4611477.html?ir=India)

What remains inarguable is that network neutrality is one of pillars of free speech (as broadly understood – including expression, freedom of information, etc.) on the internet, without which the internet as we know it will no longer exist.  What will exist, to take an example, is an internet that resembles the proposed Airtel Mobile Data plans – pay extra for WhatsApp since it has VoIP.  This is explained very well by the accompanying chart.


Toolkit/Primer

The following is a categorised list of some of the interesting links on the Net Neutrality debate. Please do read, please do consider, please do comment (to TRAI). The deadline for submissions is 24th April 2015. Comments should be addressed to [email protected].

A. Documents

  1. TRAI Consultation Paper on Network Neutrality.
  2. Abridged Version of the TRAI Consultation Paper.[1]
  3. Internet Licensing and Net Neutrality FAQs.[2]

B. Response-helper: http://www.savetheinternet.in/ (This tool helps you respond to TRAI, and has a collection of the best arguments that can be made in favour of Net Neutrality).

C. Contact your MP – Details here.

——More Information——

D. Memeful explanation: NT Balanarayan, India’ Net Neutrality Explained in Memes, Medium.

E. Videos:

  1. Last Week Tonight, John Oliver Explains Net Neutrality.
  2. AIB Explains Net Neutrality.
  3. NDTV, Firms vs free web: Net neutrality at risk?

F. Articles:

  1. Apar Gupta on Network Neutrality, MyLaw.net.
  2. Swaraj Paul Barooah, Network Neutrality – Breaking down the breakdown, Thinking Aloud.
  3. Medianama: a. The Airtel Zero Idea: Splitting India’s Internet Into Many Internets.
  4. Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy Blog: Net Neutrality and Public Highways;  Net Neutrality, Free Speech and the Indian Constitution – Part I, II, III.
  5. NALSAR TLF: Supreme Court On Non-Discrimination In Call Networks – An Argument For Indian Network NeutralityNet Neutrality Violations In India: On Bluwifi And OTT Services;
  6. Vishal Mishra, Net neutrality is all good and fine;
    the real problem is elsewhere
    , Columbia Science.

G. Arguments against Network Neutrality:

  1. Dhiraj Nayyar, India has a good argument against Net neutrality, LiveMint.
  2. Joshua Steimle, Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality?, Forbes.
  3. Todd Wasserman, 5 Arguments Against Network Neutrality, Mashable.
  4. The case against Net Neutrality in India – Niti Roundup.
  5. Press Trust of India, Net neutrality: Airtel defends data pricing, aims to bust myths regarding Airtel Zero, IBNLive.
  6. Shashi Shekhar, India does not need net neutrality, Business Standard.

H. Facebook Page: Save the Internet – Net Neutrality in India.


 

[1] Unfortunately, we don’t have attribution details for this yet. We will fill the details in as soon as we get them.

[2] Unfortunately, we don’t have attribution details for this yet. We will fill the details in as soon as we get them.

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