There are fights worth fighting and net neutrality was a good fight we fought together. In early 2015, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had released a paper suggesting that telecom companies could be allowed to charge differently for different websites or applications we accessed on the Internet. The TRAI also notified the public of twenty questions they had to answer about what the policies for the use of Internet should look like. Along with this, the public was also asked to send emails in support of net neutrality.
After a campaign we did on social media that lasted for over a year, 70 Lakh responses were sent to TRAI in support of Net Neutrality and finally, TRAI has to bow down.
On 8th February 2016, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued the ‘Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016’ that upheld net neutrality.
That time many of us might not have realised how important that movement was and how it would have played out if TRAI had voted against net neutrality.
Portugal users not that lucky
Portugal doesn’t have regulations related to Net Neutrality and telecom companies are benefiting out of it. MEO, a Lisbon-based telecommunications firm, has listed data package on their website in addition to regular internet data. Anyone who wants to visit certain websites especially related to social, messaging or video, they would have to pay for it. They are not covered under normal data pack.
This is how it works. For example, In India, you pay for a regular data package. You can visit all the websites you want till there is data. But in Portugal, the websites/apps which are popular have restricted access. For unlimited access, you have to buy different packages even if you have data left.
In a discussion thread on Reddit, one of the users has commented, “Our cable internet is pretty good, like someone said it exceeds 100mbps in general, but our mobile internet has been plagued by these kinds of plans for some time now. This is definitely the worst though, never seen anything like this”.
Even in Spain and Greece, there is a violation of net neutrality.
Free internet is everyone’s right
US has the strongest policy in favour of Net Neutrality but it seems it is not going to be there for long. The current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to roll back the policy.
Indian netizens should be proud for fighting the war to restore net neutrality. The war because biggest corporations had wanted the law against Net Neutrality. In India, Facebook had launched internet.org and Airtel had launched Airtel Zero segregating websites violating free internet. But they had to roll back due to criticism.
This is what citizens and social media users can achieve when they come together irrespective of their political affiliations to fight for what is right. We hope India remains a country with free internet.