Amid the raging debate over net neutrality in India, a leading daily in New York has said India's policy makers should not allow telecom companies to charge users extra fees for internet services as such a move can hurt consumers and affect start-up Internet businesses.
"One of the main reasons the Internet has been so successful is that people have generally been able to use it how they wish.
"The worst thing policy makers could do to the network would be to allow telecom companies to mess with that," the editorial 'Global Threats to Net Neutrality' in the New York Times said.
Watch Video (An offbeat take on the issue by AIB)
The editorial cited the example of the European Council, which adopted a proposal that would allow telecommunications companies to charge Internet businesses like Netflix and Google fees to deliver their videos and other content to users faster than could smaller companies that cannot afford to pay for preferential treatment.
It said India's telecommunications regulator has also asked for comments on whether it should adopt a provision similar to what Europe is considering.
The regulator also asked if telecom companies should be able to charge users extra fees for services like YouTube, WhatsApp and Skype on top of the fees people already pay for access to the Internet.
"These proposals would hurt consumers because access to some services would cost more money. They would also hurt smaller Internet businesses that could not afford to pay fees to get preferential access," it said.
In India, Internet activists have organised a campaign against the regulator's proposal that appears to be having some impact.
"The government would study the issue closely before adopting final rules, noting that the Internet belonged to all of humanity and not to a few," the minister of communications and information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, recently said on Twitter.
The editorial said that in Europe and India, proponents of weak net neutrality rules appear to have bought into the misguided notion that higher charges are necessary to keep telecommunications companies in business and, further, that the companies have a right to impose them.