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Government looks at law to clarify ‘dos and don’ts’ to guarantee net neutrality

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

With no legal provisions for either the government or the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to implement non-discriminatory access to the Internet currently, the government is mulling a public law defining “dos and don’ts” to guarantee net neutrality.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has provided a background note to a six-member committee suggesting ‘specific measures for enforcing net neutrality’, while viewing the factors relevant in the Indian context. Three factors: need for increased broadband availability, a competitive environment and low telecom tariff indicate that market forces will guard any irregularity by telecom service providers (TSPs).

The note also takes a bleak glimpse in the fact that the most overriding content and application providers are integrated outside the country, which lead to security concerns, interception and legal jurisdiction.  It is expected that the committee will submit its report by the second week of May.

Notably, telcos, such as Reliance and Airtel had initiated separate services in alliance with select content providers offering free data access to their websites. However, it soon ended up after the companies had to withdraw their schemes, not because of any regulatory or government proclamation, but due to a public hullabaloo.

The DoT sources revealed that as the things are today, remarkably high internet traffic growth rate is resulting in network congestion and spectrum crunch. This, in turn, is forcing telcos to implement traffic management tools that curb the stream of data on the Internet.

The  Web Foundation’s 2014 Web Index reveals the fact that 74% of 86 countries included in the study lacked lucid and effective net neutrality rules or showed proofs of price discrimination.

Next Story

Russian Lawmakers Come Up In Support For Bill on ‘Sovereign’ Internet

The bill faces two more votes in the lower chamber, before it is voted on in the upper house of parliament and then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

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The coat of arms of Russia is reflected in a laptop screen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 12, 2019. Pixabay

Russian lawmakers backed tighter internet controls on Tuesday to defend against foreign meddling in draft legislation that critics warn could disrupt Russia’s internet and be used to stifle dissent.

The legislation, which some Russian media have likened to an online “iron curtain,” passed its first of three readings in the 450-seat lower chamber of parliament.

The bill seeks to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and proposes building a national Domain Name System to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

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The legislation, which some Russian media have likened to an online “iron curtain,” passed its first of three readings in the 450-seat lower chamber of parliament. Pixabay

The legislation was drafted in response to what its authors describe as an aggressive new U.S. national cybersecurity strategy passed last year.

The Agora human rights group said earlier this month that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that “seriously threaten Internet freedom.”

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has said the bill poses more of a risk to the functioning of the Russian internet segment than the alleged threats from foreign countries that the bill seeks to counter.

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The Agora human rights group said earlier this month that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that “seriously threaten Internet freedom.” Pixabay

The bill also proposes installing network equipment that would be able to identify the source of web traffic and also block banned content.

The legislation, which can still be amended, but which is expected to pass, is part of a drive by officials to increase Russian “sovereignty” over its internet segment.

Also Read: Now Russian Telecom Watchdog To Direct Facebook, Twitter to Localise Users’ Database

Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in the last five years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.

The bill faces two more votes in the lower chamber, before it is voted on in the upper house of parliament and then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.(VOA)