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India adopts 'world's strongest' net neutrality norms

13 July 2018

It also kept "content delivery networks" out of the ambit of net neutrality.

"Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality - which come into effect nearly immediately - will be met with stiff penalties", Department of Telecommunications secretary Aruna Sundararajan is quoted as telling the Times.

In India, the debate started in 2015 when companies like Airtel, Facebook, Reliance and Flipkart launched plans effectively removing neutrality.

The report details a handful of exceptions to the net neutrality rules, which includes "new and emerging" services such as autonomous driving and tele-medicine or remote-diagnostic services, which by their nature could require prioritised internet lanes and speeds faster than normal.

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The new regulations affirm the Indian government's commitment to a free and fair internet, Pahwa added.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has backed principles of a free and open internet and prohibited discriminatory treatment of content and practices such as blocking, degrading, slowing down or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content.

India's Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body in the telecom ministry, has approved net neutrality recommendations proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The Department of Telecommunications didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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But proponents of net neutrality hailed the Indian government's decision as a major step, particularly given the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to roll back similar protections in the United States. The most visible casualty was Facebook's Free Basics service, which offered Indians free access to a limited number of websites.

However, there are few internet services exempted from the laid down rules, termed "critical IOT services" and "specialized services" by TRAI chairman R S Sharma. "Unlike the USA, where the FCC has gone back and is essentially opposing net neutrality, India has now the strongest net neutrality regulations in the world", he added.

India is expected to have 500 million internet users by June.

Do internet service providers have a right to throttle certain traffic?

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India adopts 'world's strongest' net neutrality norms