“The Internet has now become a commodity of daily use across the world. It is so deeply integrated into our lives that most of us can’t even work a day without it. But what, if, this liberty to use snatched or restricted in an organised way?”
This era is becoming more and more digital, and advancements in technology happen each day. People rely on the Internet for everything ranging from the food they eat, the route to their destination, to the songs they listen. Services available on the Internet are tremendous and is primarily because of free nature and no single ownership on the Internet. But now, tech giants are eyeing for this position in a different way.
Companies and ISPs (Internet Service Providers – an organization that provide internet services to the masses) are quite interested in applying differential pricing to Internet traffic. This kind of moves is said to be against net neutrality.
WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY?
Net Neutrality is a term coined by a professor at Columbia University named Tim Wu in 2003. It implies giving easy Internet access to the user without restricting any content on the basis of application, platform or any other criteria.
History is full of incidences where organisations have deliberately restricted access to particular content on the Internet due to numerous reasons like rivalry and earning a profit. These incidents happened because there were no specific laws to prevent them. Chile became the first country in the world to enforce a law to preserve net neutrality in 2010. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also released a consultation paper in 2016 to ban differential pricing of data services in the country.
WHY COMPANIES WANT THIS?
People against net neutrality give several reasons to support their argument. One of the primary reason is different types of content like audio, video, images and text. According to a journal, several organisations opposed Barack Obama when he showed his strong support for net neutrality in 2014. Companies argued that it should be okay to discriminate between different content types.
Internet Service Providers (ISP) back such organisations as they want to get maximum profit from their user base by generating maximum benefit from content which is viewed the most. They have several ways to violate the principle of net neutrality. Discriminating on the basis of protocol and IP address, are to name a few. Most ISPs out there discriminate peering and favour private networks.
WHY IS NET NEUTRALITY NEEDED?
The biggest concern behind violation of net neutrality is the undue advantage that tech giants will enjoy. This is considered as the most apparent effect of net neutrality violation. This may happen because these organisations have a huge user base of their services. Thus, it will eventually force ISPs to give cheaper data plans for these sites and therefore providing even easier access. It will indirectly lead to shut down of small Internet-based businesses as users won’t be allowed to access them in the way, they will be permitted to organizations.
Hence, a general prediction shows that if net does not continue to be neutral the way it is now, it can have much higher implications than it seems.
PUTTING IT ALTOGETHER
Hence, net neutrality is not that simple as it seems and has many long-lasting effects. It has different meanings to organizations and users. However, for the Internet to remain the way it is, everyone must unanimously preserve net neutrality.