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Video: Why the battle for net neutrality is so crucial, even if it’s only in the US for now

The internet in the US may no longer be a free market or an open democracy.


There’s no other way to say it – the internet is under attack in the US. This goes directly against the original principles on which the internet – which no one owns – has run till now, which is that everyone has equally unrestricted access to any website that they want to visit.

This idea of fairness, in which everyone from start-ups to large corporations gets an unfettered share of accessibility through the internet, is called “net neutrality”. Which means, as the video above puts it, “The internet is a free market and an open democracy, where our choices determine which things spread and become popular.”

And this is the very ideal that the Republicans are voting to overthrow in the US, with the effort being operationalised by Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, has unveiled plans to scrap the 2015 net neutrality rules, which ensured a free and open internet, in order to allow Internet Service Providers to ensure faster access to websites which, presumably, will pay them for that privilege.

The succinctly animated video, above, explains what a major threat the repeal of net neutrality would be - “the economic, political and cultural repercussions of this are enormous.” It would take power out of the hands of the people and put it in the hands of corporations and internet service providers, making the internet the opposite of everything it has come to mean today.

In India, however, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out largely in support of net neutrality, with a long list of recommendations. “The licensing terms should be amplified to provide explicit restrictions on any sort of discrimination in Internet access based on the content being accessed, the protocols being used or the user equipment being deployed,” TRAI said in the recommendations, which are now for the government to accept and implement (or reject, as the case might be).

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vistara and not by the Scroll editorial team.