Devise concrete plan to guard Internet neutrality: CPI to government

CPI called upon the government and TRAI "to come up with a concrete action plan to protect open internet and net neutrality.

By: Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: April 18, 2015 9:55 am
TRAI, Airtel Saying it was high time that the “media savvy” government woke up to the need of protecting media’s social character, CPI called upon it and TRAI “to come up with a concrete action plan to protect open internet and net neutrality.

Asking the NDA government to not “fall prey to corporate pressures”, CPI on Tuesday said it should act to protect open Internet and net neutrality in the wake of some service providers trying to license certain web services with higher speeds.

Saying it was high time that the “media savvy” government woke up to the need of protecting media’s social character, CPI called upon it and TRAI “to come up with a concrete action plan to protect open internet and net neutrality in the wake of some ISPs (trying to) license certain web services with
higher speeds”.

The party further said that all developed and developing nations have specific legislation pertaining to net neutrality as it insisted that the Centre, too, to wake up to the need of protecting the social character of the media.

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“I condemn the attitude of Union Telecom Minister (Ravi Shankar Prasad) who is saying he is awaiting a report on the issue before he can respond. TRAI is a body set up by the government and, if necessary, the latter has to give the direction. The government should not fall prey to corporate pressures,” said CPI General Secretary S Sudhakar Reddy.

“Failure to protect net neutrality would be the failure of the government in protecting the interests of the people,” he said after e-commerce major Flipkart today decided to “walk away” from a proposed tie-up with Airtel that has sparked a raging debate on equal Internet access for all.

“Today’s announcement by Flipkart that they are withdrawing from the Airtel Zero plan is a victory for those fighting for net neutrality. However, this cannot be fully stopped without the government stepping in to plug the legislative loopholes,” Reddy said.

Net neutrality implies equal treatment to all Internet traffic and any priority given to an application or company based on monetary considerations is seen as violating the concept.

Launched last week, Airtel Zero is an open-marketing platform that allows customers to access certain mobile applications for free with charges being borne by the App makers.

Airtel Zero, as also similar services launched by Reliance Communications and Facebook, among others, have come under attack with critics slamming these as being against the ‘net neutrality’ regime. They claim that such schemes are aimed at restricting ‘free’ Internet access to select platforms.

A government-appointed panel is looking into these concerns and is likely to submit its report next month while the matter is also being separately studied by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which has already got submissions from over one lakh netizens in support of net
neutrality in India.

Free Internet advocates and start-ups see the move as a violation of net neutrality and one that could even “lead to monopolisation by a few and squeezing out of small companies”.

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