• The term was coined by Tim Wu in 2003.
• It is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet.
• It means that the Internet Service Provider may not discriminate between different kind of content and applications online.
• It guarantees a level playing field for all websites and Internet technologies.
• In this, all data on the Internet is treated as same and is not discriminated or charged differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment or method of communication.
• Under this principle, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.
• In net neutrality all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally, the service providers should allow access to all content without favouring any particular product or website.
Advantages of Net Neutrality
• It has remained a core democratising tenet of the internet since the time it came into existence.
• It protects innovation and if big companies like Google and Netflix could pay to get exceptional treatment, more bandwidth, faster speeds, the new start-up firms would be at a disadvantage.
• It will also negatively affect freedom of speech. In absence of net neutrality, the big companies could give priority to TV networks from videos it owns and slow down the signals from its peers.
• It supports competitive marketplace and provides chance to every firm, from big companies to small start-ups to take part in it. Curbing netizens right to a neutral net will be a big blow for the budding entrepreneurs.
Disadvantages of Net Neutrality
• The users download large amount of software, music and movies illegally. The changes will put a restriction.
• The various companies like Google have created services that allow people to make calls for free on networks that telecom companies have spent billions to build. Net neutrality is injustice to these companies.
• Net neutrality do not protects innovation instead stifles innovation. If the telecom companies can charge higher fees to the prime bandwidth hogs, they can also afford to develop advanced fiber networks that support all forms of new Internet services.
• Some level of prioritisation or restriction is essential to support the best interest of consumers as a whole.
• Bandwidth is definitely a limited commodity and regulation will help restrict illegal use of the platform.
Net neutrality in India
• There are no laws enforcing net neutrality in India.
• Although TRAI guidelines for the Unified Access Service license promotes net neutrality, it does not enforce it.
• The Information Technology Act, 2000 also does not prohibit companies from throttling their service in accordance with their business interests.
• In India, telecom operators and ISPs offering VoIP services have to pay a part of their revenues to the government.
• Violations of net neutrality have been common in India.
• Examples include Facebook’s internet.org, Aircel’s Wikipedia Zero along free access to Facebook and WhatsApp, Airtel’s free access to Google and Reliance’s free access to Twitter .