India Says Yes to Net Neutrality, Telecom Regulators Okay Rules

CYBERSPACE—One month after the United States scrapped regulations that guaranteed that all online data was treated fairly and equally by internet service providers, the country with the world’s fastest-growing economy, India, is moving in the other direction.

On Wednesday, India’s Telecom Commission—the Indian equivalent of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission—approved the new rules recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, a lower-ranked body in the country’s Department of Telecommunications.

“This means that telecom and Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, site, platform, or application,” wrote India’s national English-language newspaper, The Hindu. “They cannot engage in practices such as blocking, slowing down or granting preferential speeds to any content.”

The move came as part of a new, overall telecommunications policy for India.

“Digital infrastructure is even more important than physical infrastructure for India,” said Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan. “We must ensure digital infrastructure is provided at the earliest. Therefore, India must have ease of doing business and enabling policy environment.”

The stark contrast to recent developments in the United States comes shortly after the International Monetary Fund confirmed that India will continue to rank as the world’s fastest-growing economy, with projected growth rate of 7.4 percent.

In the United States, as the FCC has now given large telecommunications companies the power to give certain sites preferential treatment while suppressing others, the 2018 projected growth rate is just 2.8 percent

However, as far as the adult entertainment industry is concerned, in the United States rolling back net neutrality is bad news, as it gives big ISPs the power to slap premium pricing on users who want to access porn sites, and opens the possibility of internet censorship.

But in India, net neutrality should not affect the online porn business at all, at least in theory, because transmitting porn over the internet in India is illegal. But downloading and viewing online porn in India remains legally okay.

Following the rollback of net neutrality, the FCC is readying another consumer-unfriendly rule change, according to the tech site Endgadget. The new rule would make it much harder for consumers to file complaints about telecommunications companies with the FCC—by charging $225 per complaint.

“When (FCC Chair Ajit) Pai rolled back Net Neutrality, he and his agency was at least obliged to pretend to pay attention to opposing arguments,” the site wrote. “It's thought that the plan to streamline the complaint procedures would also remove any obligation for commissioners to listen to the general public.”

Photo by Viggy Prabhu / Wikimedia Commons