US kills what India holds dear — Net Neutrality

By: | Updated: December 15, 2017 2:00 PM

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines on Thursday to repeal landmark 2015 rules aimed at ensuring a free and open internet.

The United States has killed Net Neutrality — at least for now, while India held it dear as a fundamental right just last month. (Image: Net Neutrality)

The United States has killed Net Neutrality — at least for now, while India held it dear as a fundamental right just last month. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines on Thursday to repeal landmark 2015 rules aimed at ensuring a free and open internet. There could a long court battle for the open internet but for now, it is over in the United States.

On the contrary, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India vouched for the internet as an open platform based on the Constitutional right of “Equality”. No blocking, no degrading, no slowing down, no preferential speed, the TRAI said in its recommendation. In February 2016, the TRAI issued binding rules that went into immediate effect that protected strong Net Neutrality and prohibited zero-rating services.

Net Neutrality in India received massive support from its citizens in an extended campaign by internet activists, who argued that Facebook’s Free Basics platform and other offerings by Indian telecom companies violated net neutrality principles. Organised by the SavetheInternet.in, nearly 2.5 million people provided public comments to TRAI on net neutrality.

However, despite an extensive campaign against the FCC vote and in support of Net Neutrality, the United States repealed it in the historic December 16 vote. 3-2. It marked a victory for internet service providers such as AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc and hands them power over what content consumers can access. It also is the biggest win for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in his sweeping effort to undo many telecommunications regulations since taking over at the agency in January.

Meanwhile, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon and Google spoke in support of Net Neutrality. “I am extremely disappointed in the FCC decision to remove the #NetNeutrality protections,” Amazon CTO Werner Vogels tweeted. “We’ll continue to work with our peers, partners and customers to find ways to ensure an open and fair internet that can continue to drive massive innovation.”

Netflix called it a decision to gut Net Neutrality that ushered an era innovation, creativity & civic engagement.

While Google, two days ago, released a statement saying that the company was committed to promoting Net Neutrality. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said, “Today’s decision from the Federal Communications Commission to end net neutrality is disappointing and harmful. An open internet is critical for new ideas and economic opportunity — and internet providers shouldn’t be able to decide what people can see online or charge more for certain websites. We’re ready to work with members of Congress and others to help make the internet free and open for everyone.”

Several others from Microsoft, Reddit, Vimeo et al also tweeted in support of Net Neutrality, expressing disappointment over the vote.

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