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Telcos trying to create ‘caste system’ on Internet – IFF on Net Neutrality

Telecom companies are trying to divide Internet traffic into different ‘castes’ and treat each of them differently and want to extract money from people who create apps, websites and other content, said Internet Freedom Foundation.

The IFF was responding to suggestions given to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India by telcos that net neutrality should apply only to certain categories of traffic, and for others, they should have the power to block or throttle.

While net neutrality advocates have asked that all Internet traffic should be treated alike and telecom companies not be allowed to block or slow down any part of the traffic, telecom companies have said that they should be allowed to ‘restrict’ usage of services such as Netflix and Youtube.

This has raised suspicions that telecom companies are be looking to promote their own apps by slowing down their rivals in the name of network congestion, falling profits etc.

“They (telecom companies) define preferential treatment on the basis of content, applications, services within the same class of Internet traffic. Such a definition allows telecom service providers to define arbitrary classes between the consumers – a distinction of this sort is antithetical to net neutrality. Treating distinct sections with different rules is by definition not neutrality or equality but discrimination,” said Internet Freedom Foundation, which is an umbrella organization including what was formerly the ‘savetheinternet’ campaign.

“We believe that such classification is essentially akin to building an entrenched system of discrimination, a ‘caste system’ for the Internet. Such a scheme is not only regressive and inherently discriminatory, but also opens the door for other abusive practices and user privacy implications,” it said.

Telecom service providers — while voicing their support for ‘net neutrality’ — have sought to exempt most of Internet traffic from rules that guarantee net neutrality.

The operators, instead of opposing net neutrality as they did in the previous consultation process, have instead resorted to seeking carve outs for as many services as possible from what they see as an inevitable net neutrality legislation.

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