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Nasscom submits views on net neutrality to TRAI

IT industry body is against all platforms that discriminate access to internet mainly on basis of payments including zero rating

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

IT industry body Nasscom today said any discrimination in giving access to internet amounts to violation of freedom of speech and expression.

"Any restrictions placed on access to platforms of data are tantamount to a restriction of freedom of expression because my freedom of expression includes my freedom to be heard. You can say something and as long as no body heard you is not freedom of speech," R Chandrashekhar President Nasscom said.

Nasscom is against all platforms that discriminate access to internet mainly on basis of payments including zero rating plan, he said. Nasscom today submitted its suggestions on net neutrality to telecom regulator. The last date for submitting comments is April 24.

Bharti Airtel's launch of Airtel Zero platform on April 6 had triggered a debate on the issue of net neutrality across the country and many experts said the launch was against the principles of net neutrality.

On the 'Airtel Zero' platform, companies, including startups, can offer apps for free.

The app maker will pay for the customer's free usage to the operator and users don't have to pay any data charges.

Net neutrality means all internet sites to be treated equally without any discrimination in terms of speed and cost of access. Amidst all this, telecom regulator is in the process of framing regulations on this issues and for over the top players such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber. And the department of telecommunications has also set up a committee to look into the issue of net neutrality. Both the reports are expected to come out next month.

Chandrasekhar said over-the-top (OTT) players do not need licensing regime as they already fall under the ambit of IT Act. "If applications will be brought under licensing regime, India will not have access to innovative applications and people have no reason to subscribe to internet packs, and data revenue of telecom operators will also suffer," Nasscom internet Council Chairman Sanjeev Bhikchandani said. The industry body also said there should be no double dipping by telecom service providers -- charging of data from both consumer and application/platform provider.

In another related development, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament and Anshul Tewari of Youth Ki Awaaz will tomorrow hand-over to TRAI the 2.8 lakh Petitions received from citizens on Change. Org in support of net neutrality.

More than 2.8 Lakh citizens responded to the petition started by a Netizen, Sandeep Pillai, on asking TRAI not to permit violation of net neutrality principles in India by allowing private telcos from introducing differential pricing of data packets used over the internet, according to a statement from the MP's office.

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First Published: Wed, April 22 2015. 17:30 IST