India approved strong net neutrality rules

Net neutrality new policy gets Telecom Commission's green light

In November past year, the telecom and media sector watchdog had proposed restrictions on service providers from entering into pacts which lead to discriminatory treatment of content, while also suggesting a multi-stakeholder body comprising telecom and internet service providers, content providers, civil society organisation and consumer representatives for monitoring violations.

"Any deviations and violations of the rules of net neutrality - which come into effect nearly immediately - will be met with stiff penalties", telecom secretary Aruna Sundarajan told Indian reporters.

India has adopted recommendations strongly backing net neutrality that experts say could be the "strongest" in the world.

The Centre on Wednesday accepted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendations on net neutrality.

The TRAI had recommended restrictions on service providers from entering into agreements which lead to discriminatory treatment of content on the Internet.

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"In the age of autonomous vehicles and remote diagnostic surgery, you need to prioritize (the speed of) certain kinds of traffic so those categories of critical services which will be subsequently notified by the DoT will be kept out (of net neutrality norms) and that is in line with worldwide practices; everything else will conform to core principles of net neutrality", Sundararjan said.

Trai however had kept "content delivery networks" out of the ambit of net neutrality and also allowed fast lanes for specialised services that DoT (Department of Telecommunications) must define, and permitted telecom operators to use traffic management practices to maintain the quality of service.

The Telecom Commission also accepted the National Digital Communications Policy 2018, which will now be sent to the Union Cabinet for its approval.

The Commission also gave its nod to install 12.5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots in all gram panchayats.

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