The vital foundation on which the Indian Constitution stands is in the citizen’s ‘freedom to speech and expression,’ article 19 (1a). With the regulatory bodies widely abusing Section 66A, the law was a slap on the face of liberty and freedom of expression, the two fundamental pillars of our democracy. Last week when news surfaced of ‘Net Neutrality’, there was pandemonium across the nation. The questions prowling among thousands, is net regulation an implementation of Section 66A in a new avatar and will it curb our freedom of speech and knowledge?
So, What’s Net Neutrality?
While the present internet is a giant buffet operative on an all you-can-eat method, it will turn into a shopping mall with different rates for different objects with net regulation.
To simplify, net neutrality signifies that all data and websites are treated and charged equally. Sans the fancy jargons, net neutrality is based on the same idea as telephones work. You pick up the receiver, dial a number and connect to the person at the other end. Are your calls blocked? No! Is your connection to a particular number deliberately delayed? No! Most countries across the globe have rules that insist telecom operators to provide unfiltered, unrestricted phone service and that’s how it has been since the dawn of the 20th century.
Now, when the internet took off in ’80s-’90s, since most telecom operators were also Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the same principles on which a telephone functioned were adhered to! When a web user connects to a website, he gets the same speed in all the sites open on his browser, be that a YouTube video or Facebook images.
Did you know that the telecommunication giants are the exclusive 1% who dominates 90% of the world’s wealth? And now they want more! This doesn’t look attractive, does it? Just imagine if this episode were to play in India! With more than 2, 00, 00,000 Indians staying away from home, communication conduits are limited to instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and VoIP solutions like Skype. If such services are paid prioritized, it will be a bolt from the blue for the economy.
How Will Net Neutrality affect you?
Didn’t the idea of the internet emerge from the concept of freedom? It’s only when you have access to free knowledge and freedom to share you are growing multifold.