TRAI Says Airtel Zero & Internet.Org Are Against Net Neutrality, Violate Free Internet
After a nation-wide movement by Internet activists and users against telecom firms which are trying to curb the Freedom of Internet & Choice, a senior TRAI official has hinted that they may take action against these anti-net neutrality plans.
Prima facie, it has been discovered by TRAI that Airtel Zero and Internet.Org, both are offering plans which are against the principles of Net Neutrality, and they may introduce new rules and regulations which stops them from initiating such plans.
A senior official from TRAI said to TOI: “From the looks of it, Airtel Zero and many other plans including Facebook’s Internet.org tie-up with Reliance Communications and the free WhatsApp, Facebook offers by other telcos seem to violate net neutrality”, adding that “You will need the force of law to draw lines on what is permissible and what is not. Together, the regulator and the government will have to make it clear”
Over 5 lakh mails have been sent to TRAI from concerned netizens from all over the country, after they published a consultation paper seeking views on placing additional fees for using OTT services like WhatsApp and Viber. It seems that TRAI is actually reading the responses and the agitated replies against any such action, and they may support net neutrality in coming days.
The TRAI official also said, “We are completely aware of the complex issues plaguing net neutrality and that is why we have initiated a debate on this subject through our consultation paper,”
Telecom Minister Supports Net Neutrality
The hue and cry against controversial plans by Airtel and Reliance to kill Freedom of Internet has reached the upper echelons of power in New Delhi, and Telecom Minister has come out openly in support of Net Neutrality and Freedom of Choice.
In an unprecedented move which neither Airtel nor Facebook/Reliance expected, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad blasted telecom companies for forging an unholy alliance to kill Internet. He explicitly said that Internet belongs to the entire humanity, and not few.
He said few days back: “We feel that the Internet is the creation of human mind. Internet should have linkages to the common man in a non-discriminatory manner. It (Internet) belongs to entire humanity and not to a few,”
The Ministry has set up a panel to review the allegations of anti-net neutrality against telecom players and TRAI, and will submit their report by May 9th.
IAMAI Blasts TRAI for Favoring Telecom Players
Meanwhile, India’s biggest and strongest association of Internet and Mobile startups: IAMAI has blasted TRAI for favoring and supporting Telecom players.
IAMAI President Subho Roy said, “It looks like Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its consultation paper, has copy-pasted from submissions of telcos. India has a robust and at times, overbearing IT Act”
He was pointing to the accusations that TRAI had just copy pasted the recommendations sent by telecom players in their consultation paper; and molded them in a way which favors them rather than the end user.
IAMAI has some really powerful and influential members in their association which includes Google, Amazon, Snapdeal, Flipkart, Ola, MakeMyTrip, GoDaddy, IBM, and even Facebook and Airtel. Such a strong and critical statement by IAMAI against TRAI will not go unnoticed, and the pressure on TRAI is evident by the statements issued by its official.
We will keep you updated as we receive more information about #SavingTheInternet in India; and about helping preserve Net Neutrality.