700 Indian Startups Plea To PM Modi: Save Net Neutrality In India; WikiMedia Says No Association With Free Basics
Indian startups have come together in this war against Zero rating plans and the mission to save Net Neutrality in India. In a dramatic twist, 700 Indian startups, especially those which are into the digital and mobile space, have requested PM Modi to save Net Neutrality in India.
This petition was created on January 25th by SaveTheInternet.in forum, and by yesterday evening, 700 startups, 200 startup employees and 164 would-be-startups had already signed this petition.
These startups have signed a petition addressed to PM Modi, wherein they have expressed their apprehensions and fears related with Facebook’s Free Basics plan and earnestly pleaded that restricting free Internet will kill startup culture in India, demolish new ideas and make all freethinkers a slave in this corporate war.
These 700 startups include Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Zomato’s Deepinder Goyal, GOQii’s Vishal Gondal, Prime Venture Partners’ Sanjay Swamy and Sharad Sharma of iSPIRT. The core message of this petition for PM Modi is crystal clear:
If we want Startup India program to became a success, then we need to protect the integrity of Free Internet.
The petition says, “We urge you to ensure that the recently announced initiative, Start Up India, addresses the concern of Net Neutrality, with clearly defined policies and firm rules,”, adding, “We have turned to you because we believe that the PMO ( Prime Minister’s Office) should come out strongly in support of safeguarding of the principle of net neutrality.”
Entrepreneurs have expressed that the whole mission of Digital India and Startup India will fail if our Government allows massive billion dollar corporations (read Facebook) to manipulate and control Internet. Some entrepreneurs are dismayed that this campaign should have been done during the Startup India program on January 16th itself, when PM Modi shared the dias with India’s successful entrepreneurs.
However, better late than never; this petition does have the power to move the Indian Government. We hope for the best!
You can also sign this petition right here.
WikiMedia Foundation: We Are NOT Associated With Free Basics
Meanwhile, WikiMedia Foundation, whose websites (including Wikipedia) are part of the bouquet offered by Free Basics have made clear that they are no way associated with Free Basics. In a statement, they have said that there has been no licensing done between WikiMedia and Facebook; and all content available are free in nature, which anyone can distribute for free.
Adele Vrana, head of strategic partnerships, global emerging markets and Smriti Gupta, regional manager, strategic partnerships, Asia of the Wikimedia Foundation said in the blog post, “Facebook’s Free Basics includes Wikipedia as one of its services, but we wish to be clear that neither Wikipedia nor the Wikimedia Foundation are partners of Free Basics. Wikipedia is included in the Free Basics package through our free license. In line with our open policies, anyone can use and distribute Wikipedia content without formal permission,”
Interestingly, WikiMedia themselves have a Zero Rating program called Wikipedia Zero, through which 600 million people across 164 countries can read and contribute to Wikipedia without paying for data charges. Justifying their own Zero Rating plan, WikiMedia said that if such plans enable wider access to Internet ‘without’ compromising on content or access, then its fair enough.
WikiMedia has categorically stated that under no circumstances shall their editorial content or access would be restricted under Zero Rating plan.