Govt. Dismisses Net Neutrality Threat In India; Says Internet Is For All!
Under Digital India, companies cannot exploit Internet for their vested interests and no walled gardens cannot be allowed.
Amidst the on-going war to protect Net Neutrality in USA, Govt. of India has made a strong statement and opinion about protecting the sanctity of Internet in India.
During a global conference on Cyber Space, where Govt. launched UMANG app, IT and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has declared that no Internet company will be allowed to hold monopoly in India.
He stressed on the fact that Internet is for all, and walled gateways and restricted access is simply not allowed.
This means that Net Neutrality is not in danger, atleast in India.
Govt of India: No One Can Control Internet
IT Minister Prasad’s comments and statements regarding independence of Internet comes at a crucial moment, because FCC in US is about to pass a law which will allow ISPs and telecom players to throttle and control Internet speed for various services, thereby killing Net Neutrality.
Similar fears were raised in India as well, because as of now, TRAI is following what US is doing in this aspect. In case FCC is able to pass that law (which we hope and pray that they wont), Internet would become a slave in the hands of companies like Verizon and AT&T, Comcast, who can control the flow of information, based on their ‘business objectives’.
Dismissing such fears and apprehensions for India, IT Minister Prasad said,
“India does not believe in exclusivity. When you talk about digital inclusion, we also mean internet inclusion, we also mean internet democracy..”
Restricted Access To Internet Won’t Be Allowed in India!
Besides, he also said that under Digital India, companies cannot exploit Internet for their vested interests. He specifically said that “walled gardens cannot be allowed”.
He was referencing to plans like Free Basics by Facebook, wherein they are providing restricted Internet access based on their own decisions, which is against the core principles of Net neutrality
Indirectly referencing to the restricted Internet connectivity model of Facebook, the Minister said,
“We are completely opposed to any kind of exclusivity as far as access is concerned.”
Stressing on the need for fair Internet access to all, without any limitations of throttle, the Minister also said,
“Our view is very clear. Internet access is not negotiable (and) no exclusive gate or walls will be allowed. The platform has to be inter-operable.”
In India, Net Neutrality was in danger when Facebook and Airtel launched their special programs to provide restricted Internet access to rural population, for free.
While Airtel launched their Airtel Zero, wherein anyone with this app can access few websites for free, Facebook’s Free Basics was also offering the same, albeit in rural areas mainly.
Pro Net Neutrality activists declared their victory last year, when Govt. of India banned all such discriminatory pricing for accessing Internet.