The net neutrality movement in India gained further momentum as travel portal Cleartrip, broadcasting network NDTV and media conglomerate Times Group pulled out of marketing platform Internet.org, a partnership between Reliance Communications and Facebook that proposed to waive off data chargers for subscribers accessing a suite of websites and applications.
The move comes a day after e-commerce major Flipkart walked out of Airtel Zero, a similar partnership, following sustained protests online.
Cleartrip stated that the firm has been committed to net neutrality and that the intensity of the recent debate had given the firm pause to reconsider its decision to join the marketing platforms.
“(T)he recent debate around #NetNeutrality gave us pause to rethink our approach to Internet.org and the idea of large corporations getting involved with picking and choosing who gets access to what and how fast,” said Cleartrip chief marketing officer Subramanya Sharma on the firm’s blog.
NDTV, another partner of Internet.org, also announced its decision to pull out of the venture later in the day. “NDTV is committed to net neutrality and is therefore exiting, and will not be a part of, Facebook’s Internet.org initiative,” tweeted co-founder and co-chairman Pranoy Roy. “Times Group commits to withdraw from internet.org; appeals to fellow publishers to follow…” read a tweet from the organisation.
Meanwhile, industry lobby Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), which counts among its members firms like Google, Facebook, Snapdeal, Ola and MakeMyTrip, batted for net neutrality, saying what the internet industry needed was lesser, and not more regulations. IAMAI will submit shortly its response to Trai’s consultation paper on regulating Over The Top (OTT) service providers and net neutrality.
Share price of Bharti Airtel dropped 2.32 per cent while that of Reliance Communications dipped by 1.16 per cent on Wednesday on the BSE following the pull out of firms from the telcos’ marketing platforms.