Net neutrality movement in India has received one of the biggest shocks ever: Google is turning evil as they seem to have teamed up with Facebook to lobby Zero Rating plans in India.
Zero Rating is a telecom jargon which means that customers will not have to pay to access some selected websites / apps; an activity which is against free and fair web principles. Implementation of Zero Rating means that smaller, young startups will never be able to make it big because bigger companies will always purchase the zero rating space.
Google’s support for zero rating plans is indeed shocking, as they had always advocated a boundary-less, open and free Internet for all. In fact, Google supports net neutrality in the US but surprisingly, their stand had changed for India; and they have collaborated with their arch rivals Facebook as well!
The Inside Scoop: Google Against Net Neutrality
Medianama has access for certain emails which were exchanges between IAMAI’s Government Relations committee members & Vineeta Dixit, a member of Google’s Public Policy and Government Relations team. The emails were sent during the time when IAMAI was supposed to send their own report to Department of Telecom (DoT) regarding net neutrality in India.
Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is the strongest association of digital and mobile companies in India, and their members include Google, Amazon, Snapdeal, Flipkart, Ola, MakeMyTrip, GoDaddy, IBM, Facebook, Airtel and more. Recommendations and suggestions from IAMAI will hold much importance for DoT to consider the net neutrality implications.
In those emails, Google has ‘strongly’ suggested that IAMAI remove any mention of ‘Zero Rating’ from their report, thereby showcasing that the top Internet companies in India doesn’t mind zero rating.
One of the emails from Google said, “We would like to register strong protest against this formulation and would request you to remove this (Zero Rating) from the submission.”
In another email, it was revealed that Google wants IAMAI to take a stand which doesn’t oppose Zero Rating, but oppose DoT’s framework to control Zero Rating; hence indirectly supporting the evil conspiracy to control Internet in India.
Among all the members of IAMAI, it was revealed, that only Facebook openly asked Zero Rating to be implemented across India. As per the emails, majority of IAMAI members were completely opposed to Zero Rating plans but only few were able to voice their opinion.
DoT’s committee on Net Neutrality had signaled out Internet.org as acting as a gate-keeper of information, which can cause wide spread harm to the free Internet principles. However, they had not mentioned Zero Rating in their report. After these revelations from MediaNama regarding Google’s stand, it is now clear why DoT was not able to mention Zero Rating in their report.
It seems IAMAI is slowly but steadily inclining towards anti-net neutrality plans, influenced by Google Facebook’s team work. As per Medianama, Facebook will chair all Govt. relations meeting at IAMAI, which can further influence their decisions. Few weeks back, IAMAI had also organized a meet-up supporting Internet.org program in India.
The Fight Is On
After Flipkart, Times of India and other prominent digital companies withdrew from Airtel’s Zero Rating program, it was a great victory for the net neutrality campaign in the country. Although TRAI is attempting to regularize OTTs such as WhatsApp and Viber, they have said that Zero Rating and Internet.org violates Net Neutrality principles. Even MTNL is supporting net neutrality as of now.
Talks are on regarding inclusion of net neutrality principles into telecom licensing requirements, which will stop Airtel from implementing Zero Rating across their platform.
However, Department of Telecom, which is the sole authority to thwart attempts to enslave Internet in India, is confused and directionless. On one hand they are saying that Zero Rating doesn’t violate Net neutrality, but on the other hand they are encouraging adaptation of global norms of a neutral net.
Last month, in a report, they had boldly announced that “The Core Principles of Net Neutrality Must be Adhered to”; but failed to mention how we can stop Zero Rating & Internet.org.
As the deadline for the comments on DoT’s report ended yesterday, Govt. has already received more than 73,000 comments from concerned Internet users all over the country. We hope that Govt. is not influenced by powerful lobbying tactics, and they make a decision which is fair, transparent and beneficial for all.
Both Google and Facebook have failed to respond these allegations of lobbying inside IAMAI. We will keep you updated as more details come in.
"Is Google Against Net-Neutrality? Emails Show That Google Has Joined Facebook For Lobbying Zero-Rating Plans",