Nasscom Does A U-Turn On Net Neutrality; Says Differential Pricing Ok For ‘Public Interest’ Services


Save The Internet India

As per The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) official website, they represent and set the tone for public policies related with software and technology in India.

But their recent statement regarding Net Neutrality doesn’t justify this mission of Nasscom.

On Monday, Nasscom issued a press statement, wherein they have said that ‘differential pricing’ proposed by telecom companies and their partners should be allowed for ‘public interest’ services. They said, “.. regulator should have the power to allow differential pricing for certain types/ classes of services that are deemed to be in public interest”, adding, “any differential pricing programs including proposals by TSPs and their partners should have explicit directives / approval of the regulator and deemed to be in public interest..”

No doubt they have repeatedly stated that Principles of Net Neutrality should be adhered to while deciding any policy, but this U-turn related with differential pricing for ‘public interest’ service has certainly raised eye-brows from supports and advocates of Net Neutrality.

Public Interest is a very broad, vague term, and in a country like India, anything and everything can be included to serve the vested interests of greedy companies. On some level, this statement from Nasscom resonates with Facebook’s stand on Free Basics and Net Neutrality; wherein they are emphasizing on the public interest goodies which their ambitious plan will roll out for the ‘poor Indians’.

Medianama aptly observed Nasscom’s u-turn by saying, “NASSCOM’s suggestions for differential pricing are warped at best. Its intentions seems good enough but the practical applications will be terrible.”

The question is, who will define which services are deemed appropriate under ‘public interest’ veil? Does Facebook’s Messenger and social media portal a necessity for poor Indians? If not, then why are they present by default in Free Basics?

Support for Net Neutrality

Meanwhile, Freedom of Internet in India received much needed support from various quarters, which has boosted the morale of supporters of Net Neutrality.

Founders of Indian startups like Zomato, Paytm, MouthShut, SVG Media, TrulyMadly, FlipClass, Teesort, Metis Learning and Goqii have written to TRAI, emphasizing the need for Net Neutral Internet in India.

IIT and IISc teachers and professors have strongly opposed any plans which violates Net Neutrality and asked TRAI to ensure that Net Neutrality is protected at any cost.

Meanwhile, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has once again backed Net Neutrality in India. In their submission to TRAI regarding the recent consultation paper, IAMAI has infact suggested several alternatives which can be used to provide Internet for all, without compromising on Net Neutrality.

An Appeal: Net Neutrality is at threat in India, and we need support of all those who wish that Internet remains free from monopoly and corporatization by billion dollar companies.

TRAI’s last date for submitting responses for their consultation paper on differential pricing by telcos is January 7th. Send an email to [email protected] and inform them about the evils of Free Basics and all other plans which violate Net Neutrality.

You can visit and copy their response while sending that email.

Internet Freedom is as precious and valuable as water and air: Don’t let anyone enslave it.

[Image Source: Flickr]

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