Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cyber security: Need for an overall national cyber strategy

There is substantive evidence in Malaysia of the market power of cable operators, and of the misuse, extortionate pricing or poor quality of service helpless consumers have to suffer when access providers start controlling access to content. This gate keeping power of the access providers creates permanent distortions which even regulation can’t control.
Net neutrality is, of course, a vital part of this basket of consumer rights. The internet is a free and open space that’s becoming a valuable market place on one hand and a forum for free expression/alternate media on the other. Telecom companies, big businesses and politicians are all naturally impacted by the growing power and presence of the net. There is the tendency of all those associated with the net to gain control of it. That, therefore, is the crux of the fight for net neutrality. a big help in evolving a new policy framework for the digital age. Minister see this engagement by activists and citizen – a big help in evolving a new policy framework for the digital age. Last year Malaysians were at the receiving end of dismal, technically inept regulations with the porn ban, the draft encryption policy and the initial consultation proposing a regulatory framework for Over The Top (OTT) applications.Each of these cases triggered an uproar. They also exposed the weakness of  the Minister, and in particular the absence of a legislation to protect consumers when repeated regulations were being challenged and stayed in courts.

A strong, strident debate has started around a set of consumer rights issues, like freedom of expression , quality of service, net neutrality, privacy and so on. A debate that is evolving slowly and surely into a Magna Carta for net and telecom consumers that enshrines the right to quality service, free and fair competition amongst others.
The real danger to a free, fair and open internet is the growing power of telecom companies to ‘cannibalise’ the internet. Net neutrality is ultimately about preventing telcos from misusing their power over the internet. Their desire to differentially ‘rate’ different parts of the net transforms access providers into gatekeepers – thus cannibalising the internet.Telcos want to use data pricing or network management to preferentially provide access to parts of the internet. This creates artificial islands on the net – which in turn, slowly but surely and irreversibly, concentrates commercial power among a few telcos. This is what  User call ‘cannibalisation’ of the internet.Once developed, it is almost impossible to reverse given the finite competition and insuperable entry barriers to it. That is precisely the situation we want to avoid vis-à-vis the internet, where telcos start influencing users and steering them onto parts of the internet where they gain more.
This second consultation  on differential pricing is key because it addresses an important part of net neutrality where it has unchallenged powers of tariff setting.  have, in my response, suggested that zero rating or differential tariffs be permitted if and only if the regulator is satisfied about lack of any direct or indirect financial interest/ quid pro quo.

 a complete ban on zero rating because it is possible and may be necessary that many government mandated sites are indeed accessible to the user, zero-rated or free. But Minister has to test these offerings for any financial benefits/ interests, direct or indirect, that may exist before permitting these. Any competition and predatory pricing implications of such tariffs should be examined by the Competition Commission before being permitted by Minister Any other tariff that involves using network management or differential pricing to parts of the net for commercial interest would be gate keeping and cannibalisation of access to the internet. This needs to be prohibited by regulation.

No comments:

Post a Comment