India advances globally leading net neutrality regulations

India is now one step away from having some of the strongest net neutrality regulations in the world. This week, the Indian Telecom Commission’s approved the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations to introduce net neutrality conditions into all Telecom Service Provider (TSP) licenses. This means that any net neutrality violation could cause a TSP to lose its license, a uniquely powerful deterrent. Mozilla commends this vital action by the Telecom Commission, and we urge the Government of India to move swiftly to implement these additions to the license terms.

Eight months ago,TRAI recommended a series of net neutrality conditions to be introduced in TSP licenses, which we applauded at the time. Some highlights of these regulations:

  • Prohibit Telecom Service Providers from engaging in “any form of discrimination or interference” in the treatment of online content.
  • Any deviance from net neutrality, including for traffic management practices, must be “proportionate, transient and transparent in nature.”
  • Specialized services cannot be “usable or offered as a replacement for Internet Access Services;” and “the provision of the Specialised Services is not detrimental to the availability and overall quality of Internet Access Service.”
  • The creation of a multistakeholder body to collaborate and assist TRAI in the monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality. While we must be vigilant that this body not become subject to industry capture, there are good international examples of various kinds of multi-stakeholder bodies working collaboratively with regulators, including the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br) and the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG).

The Telecom Commissions’ approval is a critical step to finish this process and ensure that not just differential pricing (prohibited through regulations in 2016) but other forms of differential treatment are also restricted by law. Mozilla has engaged at each step of the two and half years of consultations and discussions on this topic (see our filings here), and we applaud the Commission for taking this action to protect the open internet.

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