August 14th, 2015
Despite receiving emails from more than 1 million Indian citizens in favour of Net Neutrality, the Department of Telecommunications has once more asked for your comments on this issue. However, things are different this time, as you have only 24 hours to voice your opinion!
As DoT’s last draft report proposes, telecom operators will be allowed to offer zero-rated services as per their own choice, provided the services are approved by the govt. on a case-by-case basis. Besides directly violating the idea of net neutrality, such ambiguous and subjective statements are an invitation to bribery and corruption.
So once again, it’s time to get yourself heard by our government. Here’s how the government wants you to voice your opinion:
Step 1: Register on mygov.in here: https://mygov.in/user/register/ (you will be asked for an email authentication)
Step 2: Submit your responses here: https://mygov.in/group-issue/give-your-comments-or-suggestions-recommendations-committee-net-neutrality/
We are adding a few points in support of upholding net neutrality. Please use these only as a reference to phrase your own comment:
• Net Neutrality means access to EVERYTHING without discrimination. Don’t allow telecom operators to change the definition of Net Neutrality. We want everyone to get access, but to all of the Internet. Don’t allow creation of private walled gardens.
• No licensing of apps. No zero rating. No throttling/slowing down of websites/services. Equal access to all sites, apps. This is a must for Digital India.
• Zero rating allows large companies to act as gatekeepers of the Internet, and control which services Indians can access, which must be prohibited. The DoT draft recommendations are too weak on this, and the Govt must take a strong stand to protect users.
• Zero rating will enable well-funded Internet companies to purchase captive user bases, killing off smaller competitors and then increasing prices to recover the cost. It will decrease choice and harm consumers not only on the zero rating plans but also on the open Internet. The Govt should prohibit zero rating completely instead of giving approval on a case-by-case basis.
• Case-by-case approval of zero rating, as proposed in the report, is an invitation to lobbying and corruption. The government should make objective, unambiguous rules, not leave complex decisions affecting crores in profits to some corruptible bureaucrats. Remember that this is an industry that has already demonstrated that it has no qualms about paying huge bribes at the highest levels of government.
• There should be no license-permit raj for the web. The Govt must not adopt regressive measures such as forcing licenses for Internet communication services or mobile apps. The proposal to license VoIP is completely against the consumer interest — it will decrease choice, increase prices and stifle innovation.