The magic word that attracts unchallenged support across all possible segments of society in each and every culture. Everybody loves freedom and just mouthing support for freedom of any nature vociferously has won people Ms. Universe contests (when complemented with appropriately inadequate dresses!). Freedom from politics, from racism, from pollution, from gender inequality, from child labor, and now, from regulated internet access. Whatever!
Perhaps crime has abated a bit or there is nothing controversial happening politically; whatever be the reason, there seems to be a lot of noise around net neutrality in India. People are crying themselves hoarse on how the Internet has to remain ‘free’ and - secretly - horribly concerned that illegal torrent downloads may be impacted if the malicious corporate giants have their way.
I have little to offer on the topic given that one can Google out any perspective one wants to hear right now. However while the topic is still fresh and alive, here is my wish list of things I think need to be candidates for neutrality as well:
- Road Neutrality: I protest that roads leading to airports, ministers’ houses, houses of ministers’ parents, in-laws, cousins, aunts, ministers’ places of entertainment, etc. are done up better than the roads I need to travel on typically. I pay just the right per unit road tax as anybody else. I demand that all roads be equally rotten and pot hole ridden as those I traverse.
- TV (non) content Neutrality: I protest that I am being subjected to TV advertising that I did not explicitly sign up for. I’m consuming far too many aerated drinks and potato chips owing to being psychologically conditioned by an overload of their flashy ads simply because such BIG corporate monsters are able to afford to advertize extensively. I also protest that I’m buying too much of expensive lingerie that I cannot bodily wear, again due to successful advertizing blitzes. I demand separate channels for advertizing so that I have a choice to see or to switch to content (if miserably produced Indian family dramas can even be called ‘content’).
- Power Neutrality: I protest that when it comes to power cuts – scheduled or otherwise – some people (and their localities) are more equal than others. I demand that we all have an equal share of sweaty mosquito ridden nights.
- Water Neutrality: I demand transparency to evaluate difference between the ‘fresh’ water coming through the tap and the stuff going down the pot! Or I demand that the RO purifier companies subsidize my filtration expense if I commit to only drinking water through their systems.
- Air Quality Neutrality: I demand that vehicles be allowed to ply only in designated smoking areas and not in public places for exactly the reason smoking is mandated there.
Okay I’ve changed my mind… here’s my take on Net Neutrality – only so that this also pops up on Google when you’re looking for perspectives.
Just give people the choice. It’s really as simple as that and it’s been done a million times earlier so am not sure what the hullabaloo is all about. There is free voice calling available on volunteering to hear advertising clips. There are internet freebies available if one completes random surveys or subscribes to mailers. It’s ALL over the place and has been for a long time. Just ask people:
- Do you want (potentially) cheaper Internet with certain businesses allowed to become more prominent on your screen?
- Do you want unsubsidized Internet with this much vaunted ‘freedom’ built in so that you can do all your naughty stuff at ease and not feel used?
Admittedly there are people who are currently totally internet-less and could benefit from someone funding their access. And there are those who can afford freedom and should be allowed to purchase it. Freedom has a price tag!
Ask the folks in China.