The report of the A K Bhargava committee on Net Neutrality was on 16 July 2015 released by the Department of Telecommunications. The six member committee was appointed in January 2015.
Though the Committee unhesitatingly recommended for adherence of the core principles of Net Neutrality, it also suggested few exceptions in the interests of national security and businesses.
Highlights of report
• Legitimate traffic management practices may be allowed but should be tested against the core principles of Net Neutrality. Further, Improper (Paid or otherwise) Prioritization may not be permitted.
• India specific Net Neutrality approach should be formulated by taking into account international best practices that serve specific needs of the country.
• The primary goals of public policy in the context of Net Neutrality should be directed towards achievement of developmental aims of the country by facilitating Affordable Broadband, Quality Broadband and Universal Broadband for its citizens.
• User rights on the Internet need to be ensured so that Telecom or Internet Service Providers do not restrict the ability of the user to send, receive, display, use, post any legal content, application or service on the Internet, or restrict any kind of lawful Internet activity or use.
• Over-the-top (OTT) application services should be actively encouraged and any impediments in their expansion and growth should be removed.
• There should be a separation of application layer from network layer as application services are delivered over a licensed network.
• Specific OTT communication services dealing with messaging should not be interfered with through regulatory instruments.
• In case of OTT VoIP international calling services, a liberal approach may be adopted. However, in case of domestic calls (local and national), communication services by TSPs and OTT communication services may be treated similarly from a regulatory angle for the present.
• Content and application providers cannot be permitted to act as gatekeepers and use network operations to extract value in violation of core principles of Net Neutrality, even if it is for an ostensible public purpose. In this regard, the committee expressed its objections to Facebook’s Internet.org.
• In order to deal with the complexities of the new digital world, a think-tank with best talent may also be set up.
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What: Released by the DoT
When: 16 July 2015