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In case you are still unclear about what Net Neutrality is, we present to you some of the most unique means by which the Internet has tried to steer a conversation about Net Neutrality in India.
I. A 9-Year Old's Explanation Of Net Neutrality
II. Reddit India
A Call To Action That Appeared On Reddit
Within hours, there was a profound effect on the rating of app.
A few more important Reddit Threads to look at to learn about the dangers to Net Neutrality in India:
Nikhil Pahwa and Media Nama have painstakingly tried to simplify Net Neutrality and the developments by TRAI for Indian Internet users for some time now. They have paid close attention to the recent developments such as the Airtel Zero-Flipkart deal. In fact, writing for Media Nama, Vishal Misra, a faculty member at Columbia University has written a perfect response to Airtel's defense of its Zero program not violating Net Neutrality.
In this myth-busting piece which should be a must-read for anyone who is fooled by the premise of "Free Use" being sold by telecom companies, Misra takes Airtel's charge that the Zero plan does not violate Net Neutrality. "Preferential treatment of traffic is not restricted to just quality of service, but also includes discriminatory pricing. If there are two services that have equal performance but there is no (bandwidth) charge to use one over the other then one service starts with a clear disadvantage. Zero Rating is in clear violation of the principle of Open Internet, non-discriminatory access to all", argues Misra.
Essential Reading from Medianama on Net Neutrality:
IV. Twitterati and The Average Indian User
While Net Neutrality in India might seem like a sudden hot topic, scores of Twitter users had been clamouring in its favour for months now. When the TRAI initiative asking for responses was announced, Twitter users have taken elaborate efforts to spread the word among politicians as well as end users to support Net Neutrality.
V. A response to Airtel Zero Program and how it violates Net Neutrality...
VI. One of the most unique ways of getting one's point across was made by NT Balanarayan with his Meme-based Medium Article.
VII. Your Story
VIII. Even The Fuhrer is Mad About Net Neutrality Violation In India. Why aren't you?
IX. All India Bakchod Try To Breakdown The Need For Net Neutrality In India And How You Can Save It
Of all the explanations out there, this is probably the video that struck the quickest and clearest chord with Indian audiences. Never underestimate the power of youtube and humour, evil corporates. Never.
The Bottom Line
The need to save Net Neutrality i.e. the way the internet in India works right now where you can use an app/website without an additional charge, is not a fight for just the elite and the literate of India. The power that a free and open internet offers has bolstered many initiatives in the Indian space itself-from E-Governance and E- Learning initiatives in the form of E-Chaupal to the Prime Minister's Digital India push. A change in the basic fabric of how internet works threatens to disrupt scores of such initiatives, not to mention stripping an entire generation of modern learning opportunities due to barriers in cost of access and bandwidth.
As summarized succinctly by an Indian user, the plans to violate Net Neutrality and charge for the Over The Top services like Whatsapp represent an attempt by the jealous telecom companies to cash in on the huge amounts of equity and investment being driven into apps and e-commerce startups. While its true that the traditional model of phone calls and SMS is in a downward spiral, the onus on combating such change lies with the Telecom giants who must innovate and not pass on the burden to the end user, something even the New York Times agrees to, a publication which has vehemently supported Net Neutrality in India.
The sad reality is that such confidence of the service providers comes from our acceptance of Net Neutrality violations in the past from the Internet.org initiative by Facebook and Reliance as well as Google's plan to have no-data cost apps on Android. Thus, the fight in India is now unevenly placed with Internet Companies like Facebook, Google, E-commerce giants like Flipkart and the Telecom companies on one side in order to gain profitable market share and the average Internet user in India on the other. But the battle is not lost till 24th April.
While we have accepted many unfair terms from the service providers in the past or even caved in with our internet websites/apps like Facebook forcing users to install Facebook Messenger, the violation of Net Neutrality puts a constraint on our financial resources as well as curtailing our right to a free and equal choice.
But before you go, here's your chance to do something about this...
Words: Devang Pathak
Twitter : @DevangPat