Revolutions come and go, but every time the world moves towards a better future. Net neutrality is something that will keep the internet revolution strong and going. That’s what happened in the US some time ago, when Comcast, a high-speed internet service provider, had intentionally manipulated communications to slow down peer-to-peer communication. Internet service providers are equipped with tools that enable them to manipulate traffic flow of any particular website, apps, and IPs.
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Now, the issue of net neutrality has become a hot potato over new as well as conventional media as two big guns, Bharti Airtel and Flipkart, have inked a deal to offer free browsing with new plan to their subscribers.
Airtel had sparked controversy when it tried to charge extra for using Viber and Skype a few months ago. Later, the company had to pull back the decision after facing blunt criticism from advocates of net neutrality.
Recently, the company has announced its new ‘Airtel Zero’ plan that promises to offer free Flipkart app downloading and browsing – which means the plan subscriber will not be charged anything for using the Flipkart app. That sounds great, but actually it implies that the service provider is trying to manipulate gateway to access to a particular site and benefit the selected associates. If you still don’t get it, then here are some reasons mentioning why and how it will have a corrosive impact on net-neutrality.
Service provider will decide what you pay
There is no regulations regarding net neutrality in India yet, and such promotional policies will offer service provides to monopolize the market. For example, Airtel has 200 million users across India. Right now, they can access any application like rest of the world, however imagine a world where service providers can change data schemes or control access to WhatsApp, Facebook or any other application or website; it’ll be a disaster as subscribers will have no choice but to pay whatever amount their service provider demands.
Service provider will decide what apps you download or must download
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In case a user doesn’t wish to download a particular app, say for example Flipkart app, but your service provider is in deal with the developer or company to promote their app by recommending or making them mandatory to subscribers, users will be forced to download it. A service provider has no right to decide what the user downloads, browses, or communicates.
Start-ups will be doomed
If big players are allowed to pay service providers to manipulate traffic flow and data usage, start-ups stand no chance to grow as a platform for democratic communication and information dissemination will be compromised.
It’ll be a good policy to nip competitors in the bud. Internet must be accessible to everyone irrespective of anyone’s ability to bribe service providers. Money must not be allowed to interfere with the principal of equal opportunity and access to a global platform.
Users will be subjected to corporate corruption
The principal of net neutrality maintains that a service provider can’t charge extra for accessing a particular website or an application, however, the website or app owner can.
If service providers are allowed to make business deals with big companies against net neutrality, the associated company will be given an easy access to spy on its competitors.
Apart from these logical aspects related to Airtel and Flipkart deal that tend to violate the principle of net neutrality, we must understand that the internet should be maintained as an open platform the way it is.