Analyzing Net Neutrality in India


Net neutrality is generally understood as a principle that allows for the “equal” treatment of data packets that move across the internet. More colloquially, the term has been used to describe the unconstrained access to Internet services (websites, content, applications) by Internet Service Providers (ISP). The principle of net neutrality has major social and economic implications ranging from issues of free speech to free and competitive markets. 

‘Network (Net) Neutrality’ was first coined by Professor Tim Wu in 2003 in his paper ‘Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination’. Wu’s paper offers a general outlook on network neutrality and its role in telecommunications as well as innovation policy. The paper further emphasizes the role that net neutrality may play in promoting fair evolutionary competition. Wu’s proposal for Network Neutrality was as such : “The effort is to strike a balance: to forbid broadband operators, absent a showing of harm, from restricting what users do with their Internet connection, while giving the operator general freedom to manage bandwidth consumption and other matters of local concern.”

This statement from Wu’s paper perfectly describes the general premise of Net Neutrality. Furthermore, a basic understanding of Wu’s proposal also allows us to understand debates that span from this principle. 

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