Cleartrip Withdraws From Internet.Org Initiative, Another Win For Net Neutrality
In what could prove to be yet another major win for Net Neutrality in India, Cleartrip today announced that it has taken a decision to walk out of Internet.org initiative that was launched with much fanfare couple of months back. Cleartrip is second major online company after Flipkart to do this – Just couple of days back, Flipkart walked out of Airtel Zero offering given widespread protests against it.
Reliance Communication had partnered with Facebook’s Internet.org initiative and was offering more than 38 websites free of cost to users on Reliance Network. Cleartrip was one among those 38 websites.
While Flipkart’s decision to withdraw from Airtel Zero talks was on back of widespread revolts and online protests, Cleartrip has done it on their own accord, which definitely calls for big praise.
In a official blog post, Cleartrip has said, “So while our original intent (to be part of internet.org offering) was noble, it is impossible to pretend there is no conflict of interest (both real and perceived) in our decision to be a participant in Internet.org. In light of this, Cleartrip has withdrawn our association with and participation in Internet.org entirely.
Here is what Cleartrip has mentioned:
If Cleartrip supports Net Neutrality, then one might legitimately ask why Cleartrip chose to participate in the Indian launch of Internet.org.
Here’s why: a few weeks back, Facebook reached out and asked us to participate in the Internet.org initiative with the intention of helping us deliver one of our most affordable products to the more underserved parts of the country. There was no revenue arrangement between us and Internet.org or any of its participants — we were neither paid anything, nor did we pay anything to participate. Additionally we don’t make any money out of that product. Since there was absolutely zero money changing hands, we genuinely believed we were contributing to a social cause.
But the 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. What started off with providing a simple search service has us now concerned with influencing customer decision-making by forcing options on them, something that is against our core DNA.
So while our original intent was noble, it is impossible to pretend there is no conflict of interest (both real and perceived) in our decision to be a participant in Internet.org. In light of this, Cleartrip has withdrawn our association with and participation in Internet.org entirely.
We believe that the Internet is a great leveler and that freedom of the Internet is critical for innovation. Cleartrip is and always will be a fully committed supporter of #NetNeutrality.
We want to congratulate Cleartrip founders and their team for taking initiative and standing up for Net Neutrality! #Respect