After backing availability of free Internet, the Government of India is set to release its written report stating its decision on the status of the Internet in India. Net Neutrality became a contentious issue, with widespread protests against platforms like Airtel Zero and Facebook’s Internet.org. The Department of Telecom (DoT), via a six-member panel headed by DoT member and advisor A.K. Bhargava, has filed a report on Net Neutrality, which is presently being viewed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The report is said to support the Government’s stand on providing free Internet to everyone. While the DoT report is being examined by the PMO, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is currently preparing its own report, which is also said to be along the same lines as the DoT’s.
Airtel has faced a lot of public criticism, after its Airtel Zero rating plan backfired. A web portal, savetheinternet.in, was started, where one could directly mail the TRAI expressing their views against privatized and sectorized Internet services. There was a startling 11 lakh petitions filed through it. Facebook has also received a lot of negative publicity, first with Internet.org, and then with its attempt to sell the same concept with a different facade by stating that it was 'opening up' Internet.org to all companies. The mass criticism against these services saw Flipkart splitting with Airtel and declaring its stance for Net Neutrality, and Cleartrip and NDTV following the same lines with Internet.org
The public demand is that telecom operators should either be barred from engaging in anti-competitive practices by making certain companies' services free to use, or be prevented from throttling and deliberately slowing down connectivity speeds. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission fined AT&T a heavy sum of $100 million for deliberately slowing down connection speeds in the US. The US Government, led by the FCC, supports Net Neutrality in the nation.
As of now, both the DoT and TRAI are said to support Net Neutrality, meaning that services like Airtel Zero and Internet.org will not be favoured. Until the final report is released, people who have signed petitions on savetheinternet.in have requested no further plans to be rolled out by service providers, that would violate Net Neutrality.
Source: The Times of India
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