Vol.12 Issue 2 (2016)

How to Design an Indian Net Neutrality Law

Chaitanya Ramachandran

The past two years have seen net neutrality rise to prominence as a topic of public debate in India. Multiple policy development processes have been instituted within the executive and legislative branches of the government to formulate policies and regulations protecting net neutrality. While proponents demand robust legal protection for net neutrality, opponents have tended to focus on broadening the scope of exceptions to net neutrality. It is conceivable that, as the various policy development processes continue to unfold, a consensus will emerge amongst policymakers in favour of protecting net neutrality through law (regardless of the extent of that protection).

In this note, I offer a number of important “decision points” for policymakers tasked with designing a legal instrument to protect net neutrality. My objective is not to prescribe what I see as the “correct” outcomes for these decision points; instead, it is to provide a structured, conceptual framework to underpin a future net neutrality law. A law based on informed decisions on the key points I identify here is likely to do a better job of effectively protecting the interests of all affected stakeholders, and perhaps even survive judicial scrutiny if it is challenged.

Author

Chaitanya Ramachandran is a technology lawyer specializing in Internet law.