In India, websites such as the discussion board Reddit, messaging service Telegram, and comedy site College Humor are being blocked by Internet service providers (ISPs) for intermittent periods since the beginning of 2019. The blocks are raising questions regarding the enforcement of net neutrality rules. According to the non-profit Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), blocks are happening without user notices in many cases. The IFF sent a letter to the Indian telecoms department, saying that there have been at least 250 reports of websites blocked on networks operated by main ISPs since January. It is not clear if websites are being blocked based on government or court orders, which would not violate net neutrality rules.
The Internet’s success lies in its design, which is based on the principle of net neutrality. From the outset, the flow of all the content on the Internet was treated without discrimination. New entrepreneurs did not need permission or market power to innovate on the Internet. With the development of new digital services, especially the ones consuming high bandwidth such as high-quality video streaming, some Internet operators (telecom companies and ISPs) started prioritising certain traffic – such as their own services or the services of their business partners – based on business needs and plans, justifying such an approach with a need to raise funds to further invest in the network. Net neutrality proponents strongly fight back such plans arguing this could limit open access to information and online freedoms, and stifle online innovation.