Monopolisers Can Fracture Internet, Warn Experts

Published: 30th September 2015 03:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th September 2015 03:31 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: Amidst an ongoing debate on net neutrality, experts have cautioned against any service provider acquiring significant market power in any of the segments of the digital ecosystem.

Any dominance over the Internet by some firms might fracture it into a set of national or regional political economies, they warned. A paper by Pablo Bello and Juan Jung of the Association of Latin American Telecom Operators, released during Cyber360, an internet security meeting being held in the city from Tuesday, advised countries to stop any firms from enjoying monopoly power.

They argued that regulations should be applied for both telecom service providers and service providers. It is also essential that freedom exists in the digital ecosystem so that competition within it could be strengthened, they said.

Speaking on “sponsored data” services that allow special considerations for some services, they noted that such services do not contradict net neutrality.

However, regulations should ensure that companies such as Google or Facebook, which have positions of dominance in online search and social media respectively, do not distort the market of internet access for gain.

“The criteria Google uses to prioritise searches and make those who pay stand out, as well as those used by Facebook to suspend an account or Instagram to delete photos, should be more transparent,” the authors noted.

In another paper, Ben Scott, Stefan Heumann and Jan-Peter Kleinhans of Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, Berlin, expressed fears that the debate might fragment the Internet. The choices that nations make will determine “whether the global Internet will remain an information commons or fracture into a set of national or regional political economies,” they said.

They said net neutrality is related to infrastructure as increased bandwidth will eliminate congestion at routers and prevent “paid prioritisation”, through which telecom companies prioritise access to some customers who pay for it.

Noting the differences in US and European net neutrality regulations, they predict that implementation of the laws will result in the two Internet markets developing in completely different ways, which will be difficult to reverse.

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