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India’s Internet population is raging around the issue of net neutrality. The net neutrality debate was sparked off recently after some telecom operators and Internet companies came up with plans that offer preferential treatment in using the Internet and therefore, pushed netizens into taking a stand on this issue.

The problem is that there are no laws enforcing net neutrality in India. Although, TRAI guidelines for the Unified Access Service license promote net neutrality, it does not enforce it. The Information Technology Act, 2000 also does not prohibit companies from throttling their service in accordance with their business interests. In India, telecom operators and ISPs offering VoIP services have to pay a part of their revenues to the government.

Violations of net neutrality have been common in India. Examples beyond Facebook's include Reliance’s free access to Twitter and many. Applications like Whatsapp and Viber have eaten into their profits as calling and texting can now be done for free. Operators add that huge amounts of data running on their system is putting pressure on their system and that negligible returns from such data will impede the growth of the sector. Telecom operators like - Airtel, Vodafone, and others have now decided to charge for apps and services that run on their network. The charge can be levied on the customer for the data he or she consumes or on app developers and web services providers. Airtel has slowly gone on to do just that by launching Airtel Zero, where an app developer or web services provider has to pay the company to make his service available for free to the consumers.

The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted strong net neutrality rules that should prevent cable and phone companies from creating fast and slow lanes on the Internet. But policy makers in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe and India, are considering very different kinds of rules that could hurt consumers and start-up Internet businesses.

With debate continuing to rage on Net Neutrality, The Competition Commission of India started looking into whether telecom operators and Internet service providers are indulging in unfair business ways by extending preferential treatment to select mobile applications and websites.

The Internet is one place where everyone is treated equally. One of the main reasons the Internet has been so successful is that people have generally been able to use it how they wish. The worst thing policy makers could do to the network would be to allow telecom companies to mess with that.

Until then it is wait and watch...

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