ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

Posts Tagged ‘internet

Internet Neutrality v/s Telecom Neutrality

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OK, Lets take the much talked about topic of Net Neutrality head on. We have heard enough allegations, counter allegations and then some. Even for Computer geeks the concept of Net Neutrality is quite new, leave aside the mere surfers. Let me try and break it to bare bones.

Net Neutrality means bandwidth and airwaves are not partial to what data is flowing through. Also equal opportunity, which has led to a lot of innovation. There are two so called attacks on net neutrality. One is Airtel Zero or internet.org (facebook). Other is charging premium for whatsapp data usage.

My viewpoint on whatsapp premium is as follows. Telecom companies plead that they have paid heavily for Airwaves. They are also bound by rules and regulations. The new apps like whatsapp which have taken everyone by surprise provide services similar to sms/calls but are not bound by the same rules. What Telecom companies are asking for is a Telecom-Neutrality. For investment in telecom infrastructure, what we need is a healthy balance sheet of telecom companies. My view is since telecom companies have paid through their noses for airwaves in 2G/3G auctions, they have right to earn handsome. TV channels including news channels, ups the ad rates during IPL finals or such major events; Also tie the ad rates with TRP’s. Why are then telecom companies being targeted alone?

Well for one it’s easy to target someone who charges people money every min of the day for just uttering a word. I feel rather than targeting telecom companies, what we should fight for is level playing field. Rules and Regulations should be same for everyone providing same services. Whatsapp is no saint. They have already made 20 billion dollars. Who paid for it? You would say Facebook. I say no. I say Whatsapp has earned at the expense of the same telecom companies. We should ask Whatsapp a piece of that 20billion USD made out of next to zero investment, rather than berating telecom companies who have invested a lot.

Next is the issue of telecom companies partnering with selected websites and making them available for free. Well on the face of it I was enraged too. How can this be done? It means propagating few websites. Since people tend to choose surfing for free, it would also mean limiting the meaning of internet for the people.

Then I looked at the stats of internet penetration in India. It’s just 20% of population. Few people out of these 20% people are the one raising hue and cry. What about the rest 80% who don’t have access to internet. Don’t they have a right to internet? If they get internet for free in whatever shape, isn’t it better? No, say the high and mighty. Shallow moral arguments are put forward. Who cares for the betterment of 80%, when a small portion of the 20% who are on twitter/facebook rule the roost. I admit someone is going to too make money out of this zero/org initiatives but as long as 80% people get to access internet for free, I will be the first one to support it.

For all those who are against, I say this, you please find a better solution to take internet free of cost to the 80% and I will support you.

Written by arpitgarg

April 20, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Netizens and Fake Identity

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One of my old colleagues initiated a Facebook discussion. Somewhere along the discussion he took the liberty of deleting one of my comments. His justification was that he intended to maintain his profile, posts and comments in a particular manner to which my comment did not adhere to. Consider here that my comment was neither obscene, provocative or political. I contested that he was trying to create a fake online impression by censoring views of his friends on his profile. All I could do was to prohibit myself from any further comments on his posts.

Enough of the petty personal low down. The issue I want to raise here is related to the realism of online profiles and social networking sites. Internet is looked upon as a replica of the real world. An extension perhaps. We have created online profiles, shopping malls, entertainment media, social networks etc for us. Netizens have always maintained that online profile is nothing but an impression of the reality. However there has been a surge in the number of fake profiles recently. Authorities across the world are trying to find a way to handle it in the best possible way.

Consider a real life scenario. You are having a discussion with someone and he starts uttering indemnities. What do you do? You stop the discussion then and there and decide not to be friends with him/her anymore. You start a fist fight. You report him to the authorities. But can you erase/delete what has been said? Can you un-say it? In the online world it becomes possible. Exactly the point I want to make. Netizens are deviating from the rules, regulations for the citizens. The fact that facebook allows a person to delete a comment by someone on his/her profile makes it a fakebook. True that it is necessary sometimes to delete an obscene or filthy remark but who is to decide what is to be deleted?

One might contest, “Why is there a need for a Netizen to bide by the regulations for a Citizen?” He might be right today. But given that we are taking more and more of our lives online, it might not be the case in near future. Effective laws and stringent checks will guard the online world not very far from now. E-self would be forced to stay in line with real-self. It would be a matter of choice nomore. Infact, strict online laws are being debated at eminent forums. Maybe in the future, online profiles would require you to enter SSN (Social Secuirty Number), thereby eliminating the existence of fake profiles altogether.

Consider another scenario.  A travel agency creates a Facebook profile which brags about the services they provide. Someone who has employed their services in the past knows it to be a lie. He writes a comment on their page, stating the truth. The agency deletes the comment then and there. The page remains clean, thereby misguiding the junta. On the flip side, if they are not allowed to delete the comment then a rival company might post a fake derogatory comment. A Catch-22 situation.

What could the solution be? Nothing simple, I guess.

  1. One solution could be to delete from friend-list, who we feel is writing false or maligning comments. It would closely replicate real life scenario. We just end the friendship.
  2. We can avoid adding all and sundry to our friend-list. The lesser the better.
  3. Instead of delete comment, there could be a report abuse button for every post/comment. Though it would require more personnel to be employed by the networking site who would check whether it is really an abuse or not. This might again be contested.

If this too fails then there is always Mafia Wars to settle the scores.

Cyber Culture: The new social order

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This is the summary of a term paper submitted by me and Lalit in the humanities course during our final semester at college.

Throughout the human history, there has been a gradual technological growth. Man has always strived to find ways to make his life easy and enjoyable. Starting from the earliest technology, “the wheel”, man has gone round the circle innumerable times. Technological advances have been followed by a huge rise in the standard of living, as a general trend. Be it renaissance, industrial revolution or whatever. Last half a century or so has seen advancement in technology like never before. Arrival of computers and digitization of datum has had its effects on the human sphere of life. The arrival of internet has given a further shot in the arm to the ever increasing sphere of expanding world.

Modern means of communication were said to have the capability to shrink the world. World became smaller and smaller. But as the regenerativity theory suggests, after shrinking to a tiny dot, this world has exploded again, this time to the infinitum. Internet has led to the creation of new worlds, termed as virtual worlds. All the notions of parallel world and teleporting has been a given a new dimension through this technology. It said that success comes at a cost. So at what cost is this new human success achieved? What sacrifice will the humans make to keep this success sustainable? Perhaps we are still to witness.

According to an article, “netizen is miles away from the nature and its laws. He constructs a fort separating him from the real world. This keeps him away from the realities of life” . Man has always tried to run away from challenges of the real life towards an artificial world. What else does the Arabian nights to the current day Harry Potter stand for, if not for the realization of the human fantasy? The author goes on to say, all’s well till we are inside this virtual world, the problem surfaces when we try to realize the fantasy in our real life and fail unsurprisingly.

As a result of the fast spread of internet and its unchecked expansion, a different society has come up in thousands of Internet cafes and in our own personal computers, says a report. This society has huge shopping malls like Ebay.com, meeting places like Orkut, Facebook and what not. According to a net survey, the number of users as well as the number of minutes spent by each user on Facebook has increased considerably over the period of June’06 to June’07. Most concerning fact is that around 31% of social network users enter false information. Does this suggest a new era where deception might be the reality?

Another area of concern is the reversal of roles on the net. Most of our elders don’t even have an idea about the borders of the cyber society. This is a world where the elders have become newbies. Will this hamper the human growth in the long term?

There is no doubt that internet has the potential to become one of the major tools for the global development. We can’t avoid it. The only option is to acclimatize with it. One can begin by not entering false information, using internet for useful purposes and setting time limits for internet usage.

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