My love for the Web is public. Now it needs you. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is coming up with plans to kill the Open Web. Read and respond.

What is Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is the principle that all data on the Internet shall be considered equal. There are various analogies people come up with to explain Net Neutrality. But no analogy is perfect - there's nothing like Internet. And therefore, we have to be very careful when using analogies to explain it.

Why is it important?

It is important because it is what makes the Web the cool thing it is. It allows for new comers to serve users as much as old players. It allows no monopoly. It allows choice.

If it wasn't for choice you'd have never heard of the search engine called Google (or DuckDuckGo), you'd have never heard of the social network called Facebook (or diaspora*), you'd have never heard of the browser called Mozilla Firefox (or Opera).

Besides leveling the playing field, it ensures one important property of the Internet - free speech. If nobody can prevent a voice from getting heard, that is free speech. If telecom providers can arbitrarily slow down websites, they're preventing voices from getting heard, ideas from spreading. This is detrimental even to democracy.

Analogies

Here's an analogy. The Railways carry passengers. They let people carry a small amount of luggage. The Railways also run a parcel service. Now, I am coming to your place from my place. You ask me to get 1 kg of rice from my place. I bring it in the train and sell it to you. All fine, right?
What if the Railways ask me to pay the Railways for carrying the 1kg of rice? See how that is unfair?

Some of you might say that it is fair, because you're carrying something extra. Well, it becomes unfair when all people are allowed to carry something extra, but only I am charged extra because my intention is to sell it, or even if I am not planning on selling it, I am competing with a service provided by the Railways.

Read: Appu and the Bus Operators

Here's another analogy by a 9 year old

Pretend ice cream stores gave away free milkshakes. But you had to buy a straw to drink them. But that's okay, because you still get free milkshakes. One day you're drinking a free milkshake and you look down and the guy that sold you the straw is pinching it almost shut. You can still get your milkshake, but it's really hard and takes a lot longer.

So you say, "Hey! Stop that!" And the straw guy says, "NO! Not until the ice cream store pays me money." And you say, "But I already paid you money for the straw." And the straw guy says, "I don't care. I just want more money."

Totally Wrong Analogies

Violators

Who and what violates Net Neutrality? The answer is, most operators do, or want to.

But the biggest offenders as of now are

Parminder Jeet Singh from IT for Change wrote about it as :

Commercial arrangements between telecom and internet companies are beginning to create “internet malls” that will give preferential access to a few internet companies. These structures will eventually undermine the public internet that we know and celebrate. Governments that are now ignorant of IT regulatory issues need to act soon on net neutrality so that the public internet remains in place

TRAI Consultation Paper

TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is the people who regulate telecom in India. Now one thing Telecoms do all the time, is try to increase their profit. And the latest of their ideas is to make some websites be charged more (or less). People vehemently oppose this whenever they're asked to pay more for certain services like WhatsApp.

So them intelligent and crooked people, forced TRAI to legalize such discrimination. And that is why TRAI has come out with the consultation paper and invited comments.

You can read:

If it goes unquestioned, TRAI will be letting Telecom providers go bonkers with restrictions and slowing down and premium services and what not on the Internet. Think of Internet as a river. It is best left untouched. If you try to build a dam, or canal, or speed it up, or slow it down, or take sand out of it, or anything at all, it gets all the more different.

It is your time to protect the Internet and keep it what it is. Mail to advqos@trai.gov.in with your answers and comments on their questions.

A dedicated website can be seen at netneutrality.in