Between 2015-2017, IT for Change actively engaged in a series of consultations convened by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), on regulation of Over-the-Top services, differential pricing of data, and core principles of net neutrality in the Indian context.
In these responses, IT for Change develops a unique set of perspectives on net neutrality principles that are rooted in indivisibility of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. They call for Internet egalitarianism to be seen as the key value underpinning net neutrality – instead of free market principles or a narrow focus on just the right to free expression.
1. Net neutrality is framed as a positive right and not just a negative one. In this regard, IT for Change’s inputs , inter alia, call for providing all citizens a certain amount of free data allowance.
2. In addition to the free data allowance, mobile-based public services and other essential services should be provided free of cost to to all citizens. Such instances of positive discrimination should be seen as a valid exemption, and not a violation, of the principles of net neutrality.
These original contributions from IT for Change have given rise to a new and alternate framework for net neutrality. Both these points have since been taken up by many other stakeholders, and are likely to influence TRAI when it shortly makes its final recommendations on net neutrality.