In a boost to net neutrality and a blow to Facebook and other operators offering differential data tariffs, telecom regulator TRAI today barred them from charging discriminatory prices for web access.Delivering a far reaching recommendation, TRAI provided for a penalty of Rs 50,000 for each day on service providers if they flout the order. This penalty would be subject to a maximum of Rs 50 lakh.
“No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content,” TRAI Chairman RS Sharma said unveiling the details of the regulations, effective today, titled ‘Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016’.
The new rules come amid a long-running debate on net neutrality wherein Facebook has been facing flak for its ‘Free Basics’ platform, while operators like Airtel have been at the receiving end for similar plans announced earlier.
The TRAI order is seen as a setback to Facebook which had plans to roll out Free Basics, providing access to a limited set of websites for free. This was seen as undermining the equal-access precepts of net neutrality.