TRAI: Internet an open platform, Telcos can’t restrict content

Raj Kamal Rao

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India proposed restrictions on service providers from entering into agreements which lead to discriminatory treatment of content on the Internet. TRAI on Tuesday issued its recommendations on the net neutrality in India, which have been forwarded to the ministry of IT and Communication.

“The discriminatory treatment in the context of treatment of content would include any form of discrimination, restriction or interference in the treatment of content including practices like blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content,” Trai said.

TRAI also favoured tweaking of licensing norms of players to ensure restriction on discrimination in Internet access based on content.

File photo of  RS Sharma, Chairman TRAI

File photo of RS Sharma, Chairman TRAI

TRAI said the basic principle followed while issuing the recommendations was that the internet is an open platform and that internet services must be non-discriminatory.

As per the recommendations,  A multi-stakeholder body including TSPs, industry, civil society will be set up to monitor and investigate violations. It asserted that there should be no intrusion of equal access to the internet to everyone, based on just the content.

File Photo of Mobile Tower. (Representational Image).

File Photo of Mobile Tower. (Representational Image).

TRAI has also defined certain internet access services, which even includes certain Internet of Things enabled devices.

“Licensing terms must also detail the list of bias the provider may have in terms of providing content,” TRAI recommendations said.

The recommendations also said that telecom companies must declare their traffic management activities, and the effects they may have on providing unhindered activity on the internet.

TRAI’s recommendations come at a time when there is a debate raging globally over net neutrality.

The US regulator, Federal Communications Commission, has said recently that it plans to roll back the “net neutrality” rules they were adopted in America in 2015 and voting on the issue is scheduled in December.