Government of India’s net neutrality disaster says you cant make Skype, Whatsapp voice calls within India

According to a government report, it stated that calls made within India through Whatsapp, Viber, Skype, and other Internet-based services should be regulated just like “traditional” phone calls. However, according to the report, that is intended to help establish the government’s policy on net neutrality, messaging and international calling through Whatsapp and Skype do not need regulation.

Net neutrality is a principle that says Internet service providers should treat all traffic on their networks equally, and cannot slow down or block access to any website or content.

The new report, prepared by the Department of Telecom (DoT), says net neutrality must be protected and that “content and application providers cannot be permitted to act as gatekeepers.”

But, the primary concern is how it will affect the consumers while using the internet right now. Even though, the principle of freedom is at the central part of the whole debate, the primary concern of most consumers comes down to how the report and the debate at large would have an effect on them.

Calling your friends/relatives

You can continue to call your friends or relatives living abroad, if you are using Whatsapp, Skype, Viber or any other VoIP platform. Further, VoIP calling abroad will also continue to operate as it currently is. However, the recommendation by the DoT panel on the domestic VoIP calls is unfortunately different. Actually, it might turn out that calling your friend abroad is much cheaper than calling your friend in the same city.

Even though the decision is viewed by many as the government taking sides with these apps; but, in reality, it’s more about protecting the interests of the telecom industry. Telecom service providers within India have invested to a large extent in spectrum and the industry believes it is important to make sure that there is a fair level playing field in the domestic voice market.

Actually, using OTT services such as WhatsApp, Skype or Viber to make voice calls in the domestic market would be detrimental to the domestic telecom market.

No limit on messages

While the above differentiation between India and global calls has been made only for voice services, the DoT report has stressed on user’s right to a free internet for messaging. It would continue to provide free and fair access to the ability to message locally or domestic using OTT services. In other words, one can continue to use WhatsApp, Skype, or the any same type of services to message how much ever you want.

Content ‘Rules’

When it commented on Internet.org, that is explicitly what the report said. A telecom service provider deducing data is not the same as that of a content service provider providing priority channels of content, said the report. The DoT panel here has made a distinction between Internet.org and Airtel Zero. But, it has created a feeling that the panel has given preference to Airtel instead of Facebook. A legal framework to be put in place has also been acknowledged by the report later.

Privacy is important

When the DoT panel said that the user has a right to privacy, it gave out the right kind of signals, while also accepting that currently there is lack of a proper framework to protect user privacy. In addition, the report also stated that any legal framework is made in the future, it must take the principles of Net Neutrality into consideration.

Two areas where these don’t have significance

The two areas where your priorities take a back seat are managed services and National security. The primary measure here is to protect issues of national importance, as these effectively have financial and security implications. According to the report, the panel’s priority is to safeguard the government and corporate interests. The message given out is to be responsible. Freedom doesn’t indicate that you can make adjustments on national interests.

This could also be used as a loophole to restrain unrestricted use of the Internet, which is a major issue users may have. Actually an enterprise service from a telecom service provider is not expected to justify to net neutrality principles.

You can read the DoT panel report below.

Net Neutrality Committee Report

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