What Can You Do To Save The Internet?
We all love the internet, don’t we? And not just because of what all we can do with it, but also for what it has been doing for humanity, as a whole – bringing the world closer together, fostering innovations, bettering the society, and whatnot.
Sad news: All of that is about to change and soon you could very well be saying your goodbyes to the internet you have known all your life, if we all don’t stand up and speak up right now.
Side-note: Before you close this window to move on to supposedly more important things, please consider that the future of the internet hangs in the balance and you could play the saviour in this battle. Also, if we lose, you very might have to pay extra money apart from your current data plan to use WhatsApp & Skype on your phones. I hope now I have earned your required attention.
NET NEUTRALITY is defined as a state of existence of the internet wherein all its users are allowed equal access to everything publicly accessible on the world wide web. And the term “equal access” covers equality in content, browsing speed, and in the data cost for access to each site (per KB/MB).
However, due to intense lobbying by telecom operators like Airtel and Vodafone, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is planning to allow them to block apps and websites to extort more money from consumers and businesses – an extreme violation of net neutrality.
Airtel, net-neutrality-enemy-number-1, now has rolled out Airtel Zero that makes customers access to Airtel’s favourite websites on the internet for free (no reduction of packet data while browsing) as long as the app developers or service providers pay Airtel directly on behalf of the customers, which is how these websites became Airtel-favourites in the first place. Reliance, Idea and Vodafone are planning to do something very similar very soon. Also, the tele-cos can speed up specific websites that pay them or slow down the ones which don’t. While this might sound good as a consumer initially, this makes it extremely difficult for upcoming companies to get traction. Why would anyone pay to use a better-but-subdued product when a company is giving out okay-ish products for free? Do you realise what that means? It means the death of the flourishing app-development market in India. It also means limited choices, both in terms of quantity and quality, for mobile apps and services. It means us putting up with people with money in the bank, and not with the ones who actually deserve us, as any innovative and ground-breaking ideas will be shot down due to the restricted entry in the market. It’s all economics, so I assume you know what I am talking about. Would you want to live in such a world? I, for one, definitely don’t.
If the telecom giants are allowed to have their way, here is what our dear internet will look like without Net Neutrality:-
The text is in Marathi, not Hindi, even if you’re not visiting the page from Maharashtra. It says (roughly): “To use internet.org you require the Reliance network. To visit your favourite websites for free, use a Reliance SIM card.” The main culprits in this war for Net Neutrality are these telecom companies like Reliance, Airtel, Vodafone, etc. which are planning to privatise the internet in a way dictated by their profit margins. Imagine how will you feel when such a message pops-up every time you try surfing on youtube? Or when you are asked to start paying for using WhatsApp? For real, this time.
Simply put, these tele-cos have turned extra greedy and now plan to extort more money out of our already strained pockets. We must not let them fragment the internet, exploit app-developers and damage our consumer rights. But there is hope. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the govt. organisation that’s supposed to prevent telecom companies from doing what they plan to do, has asked for public’s opinion regarding Net Neutrality and its further fate. That is why I have written this mail to the IIM-I community appealing to the netizen in all of us – Join the fight for Internet. Let’s remind TRAI that their job is to protect the rights of consumers, not the profit margins of tele-cos.
All you have to do is as follows:-
Register on the MyGov.in website.
Sign in to MyGov.in.
Visit the Net Neutrality page and submit a response – what you feel about the whole situation.
Your response need not be detailed or lengthy, so please don’t worry. It’s like posting comments on Facebook. I urge you to do your bit for the internet, and to be submitting responses to the government. Who knows? Maybe your response turns out to be the final nail in the coffin and you end up saving the internet!
I have tried to cover as much ground as possible for me in this article. For more information about Net Neutrality, kindly visitwww.netneutrality.in and blog.savetheinternet.in. Thank you so much for giving the internet your precious time.
The Internet was made by the people. And the people shall have it.
Happy Internet-Independence to you all.