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World’s biggest democracy stands up for net neutrality

Web Foundation · February 8, 2016

Today, India, the world’s largest democracy, has stood up for the free and open Web by passing clear net neutrality rules that ban zero rating of specific services. (Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India press release, full regulations and notes)  The decision follows a broad public consultation involving over one million submissions from individual citizens, civil society and businesses.

The new “Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations” state that no service provider can offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content. They explicitly outlaw zero-rating of specific services, but leave the door open to free or discounted initiatives that offer access to the whole Internet. In their explanatory notes, TRAI make clear that they have weighed up the costs and benefits, but conclude that “in India, given that a majority of the population are yet to be connected to the internet, allowing service providers to define the nature of access would be equivalent of letting TSPs shape the users’ internet experience.”

Renata Avila, Web We Want programme manager at the World Wide Web Foundation says:

“As the country with the second largest number of Internet users worldwide, this decision will resonate around the world. It follows a precedent set by Chile, the United States, and others which have adopted similar net neutrality safeguards. The message is clear: We can’t  create a two-tier Internet – one for the haves, and one for the have-nots. We must connect everyone to the full potential of the open Web.”

We call on companies and the government of India to work with citizens and civil society to explore new approaches to connect everyone as active users, whether through free data allowances, public access schemes or other innovative approaches. We’re confident these regulations lay the groundwork for all Indians to benefit from the Web equally.”

The Web Foundation congratulates the citizens and civil society groups who have worked tirelessly to uphold net neutrality and stand up for a future of true digital equality. As noted by the Save the Internet Coalition, this is one victory in a long-term mission to define the future of the Internet in India. We encourage citizens to continue engaging in these discussions and make sure Indians build the Web they want together.  

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  1. SSK

    February 8, 2016

    At Last, Net neutrality Wins...!!! Go Basics Go!!!!

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    1. Sugato Hazra

      February 9, 2016

      You guys are stupid.

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      1. Ruslendingur

        February 9, 2016

        Not clear, Sugato, what you mean exactly by "you" and "stupid".But I would agree that considering these new rules as any kind of "victory" is naive as best.And calling India "the world’s largest democracy" and "the second largest number of Internet users worldwide" doesn't help the cause. It's about demography only - so about quantity not quality. It's one of the poorest "democracies" with one of the lowest population rate with access to Internet. Yes, many in India are connected but basically to very basic information in form of "social networks"of all kinds. By other words - they are easily manipulated. If you mean this as "stupid" - you right.

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      2. Sucharita Mohanty

        February 9, 2016

        Much of the credit for this victory of the Internet users in India must go to Shri Rahul Gandhi Ji. It is his leadership and strong and passionate plea for keeping Internet access free and equal made in Parliament and elsewhere that the authorities in India were forced to see sense. RahulJi's exposure of the Modi Govt's design to give away Internet to a few their corporate cronies was timely and served as an early warning, creating popular awareness to the danger of Net neutrality being lost and spurring resistance to such moves as "free basics". Mr Modi's potential deal making with powerful global corporation of social media platform on the so called free basics was nipped in the bud. Millions of Internet users in India and around the world deserve to be Congratulated on this victory!

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        1. indian

          February 10, 2016

          @Sucharita Mohanty, Well done Sir,You are an inspiration. Whats the process to join your publishing/marketing team for Congress. I would like to publish a paid/marketing comment for Congress and make money for living. W

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        2. Alex

          February 16, 2016

          'We’re confident these regulations lay the groundwork for all Indians to benefit from the Web equally"Lets hope that's the case... certainly free basics is better than free nothing..RegardsJameswww.tilogeo.com

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          1. Connor Oud

            February 19, 2016

            Hooray for Net Neutrality, now for the EU to drop those rules that counter it.

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