The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is as concerned with the issue of net neutrality in Zimbabwe.
Net Neutrality is the internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online. Net Neutrality means an internet that enables and protects free speech.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Internet Governance Forum workshop last week, a Potraz Head of ICT Tichafa Majuru noted how the American communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission was going to repeal the bill that safeguards internet freedom. “I want to go back to the issue of net neutrality. As we sit here, in the United States, FCC which is like the regulator there is actually voting on repealing the laws that introduced net neutrality. Because they are saying its actually stifling the development of internet,” he said.
He added that there are advocacy groups that do not want the regulation of internet.
“If we look at the criticism on issues to do with regulation of the internet, what the advocates say is that there mustn’t be any regulation of the internet,” Majuru said.
Majuru went on to say Zimbabweans need to be decisive on net neutrality.
“But then you come here and say there must be regulations about net neutrality in particular, then you say ah there has to be a regulation, so we need to look at all those things and try to strike a balance,” he said.
In a 3-2 vote last week, FCC approved a measure to remove the tough net neutrality rules it put in place just two years ago. Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing.
Radicals against net neutrality argue that the rules were never needed in the first place, because the internet has been doing just fine. “The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We were not living in some digital dystopia,” commission chairman Ajit Pai was quoted saying. “The main problem consumers have with the internet is not and has never been that their internet provider is blocking access to content. It’s been that they don’t have access at all.”