IAMAI Condemns Zero Rating Plans, Supports Net Neutrality In India; A Set Back For Airtel, Google & Facebook?
The fight for Net Neutrality in India has taken a positive turn as India’s biggest association of Internet and Mobile companies, IAMAI, has declared that Zero Rating plans are against the free nature of the Web.
In their report submitted to Department of Telecom (DoT), IAMAI has categorically stated that such plans will destroy the Internet industry, and make content creators weak. New startups will eventually perish against bigger companies and innovation will meet an untimely death.
In their report, IAMAI said: “These plans will ultimately harm Internet content and service providers by limiting competition among them, and, by extension, limit consumer choice,”
IAMAI reminded the Govt. that Zero Rating plans will “allow the operators, if given control of which apps or services to push to consumers, to discriminate and privilege certain web services over others, and throttle innovation”.
Not only Zero Rating and Internet.org schemes, IAMAI is also against regularization of OTT players and charging fees for using some features like International calling (which was proposed by DoT earlier). IAMAI, in a move which surprised everyone, said that they are completely against any plans, schemes which goes against the principles of Net Neutrality, “especially paid or unpaid prioritization or other discriminatory practices”.
On the issue of ‘traffic management’ by telecom operators, IAMAI said that although it’s a technical right of the operators, it shouldn’t be used to force discriminatory pricing from the customers (example: pay more for using WhatsApp and get higher speed; pay less for Hike and get slower speed)
Net Neutrality Campaigners Relieved
Advocates of free Internet, and campaigners of Net Neutrality are relieved and pleased that IAMAI has taken a stand which is ethically and morally right; considering that IAMAI is a big and influential lobby having members such as Google, Amazon, Snapdeal, Flipkart, Ola, MakeMyTrip, GoDaddy, IBM, Facebook and Airtel.
Last week, after reports emerged that Google had joined hands with their competitor Facebook to implement Zero Rating plans via Internet.org and Airtel Zero, it triggered discussion and debate over the ‘evil’ priorities of a multi-billion dollar Internet company which always propagated Net Neutrality in US and Europe.
As per last week’s report, Google is forcing the IAMAI to avoid mentioning Zero Rating plans in their report to DoT, and that they along with Facebook are influencing the whole association in taking a positive stand for Anti-Net Neutrality plans. This negative stand by IAMAI became more serious, after ASSOCHAM declared that Zero Rating plans are not violating Net Neutrality and demanded regularization of all OTTs.
These reports were neither confirmed nor denied by both Google and Facebook; but the reply sent by IAMAI clears all doubts regarding this debacle. Even if Google and Facebook, along with Airtel and Reliance are pro-Zero Rating and pro-Internet.org plans, the other members of IAMAI have clearly understood the mayhem which such anti-neutrality plans can unleash on the free nature of the web, and can potentially destroy the industry.
All eyes are now set on DoT, which will share their own version of Net Neutrality in India and will decide the existence of a free Internet in India.
Here is the reply from IAMAI on the Zero Rating plans:
4. Zero Rating
IAMAI does not support any plans that violate the principles of net neutrality, especially, paid or unpaid prioritization or other discriminatory practices. These plans will ultimately harm Internet content and service providers by limiting competition among them, and, by extension, limit consumers’ choice. Such plans will allow the operators, if given control of which apps/services to push to consumers, to discriminate and privilege certain web services over others, and throttle innovation. This will tantamount to illegitimate network management techniques and discrimination that will lead to fragmentation of the Internet.
The Committee’s present proposal for regulatory compliance on the Zero Rating services will not be adequate to examine or scrutinize any violations of such plans and is likely to allow contraventions through back door entry.
Here are the major victories of Net Neutrality in India:
- Flipkart ditches Airtel Zero
- Times, NDTV pull out of Internet.org
- TRAI Chairman says Internet should not be policed
- TRAI says Internet.org and Zero Rating Plans are against Net Neutrality
- DoT Opposes Zero Rating Plans (but calls for regularization of OTT Players)
- MTNL opposes Zero Rating Plans
- Govt. May Include Net Neutrality As A Licensing Condition; Assure Free Internet for All
- And now, IAMAI Opposes Zero Rating and Internet.org