Net Neutrality: Support Pours in Across Party Lines

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Net Neutrality: Support Pours in Across Party Lines

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Putting its weight behind Net Neutrality, the Congress today questioned the government on where it stands on an issue that has captured the imagination of lakhs on social media.

"The apprehension is - is the government against net neutrality? Which means is the government against freedom of choice of the end user and consumer? There is a provision under section 25 of the TRAI Act where the government can direct TRAI in public interest, the government can issue binding directions. Why is the government not using this section to issue policy directions to TRAI?" asked Congress' Ajay Maken.

The support from the Congress comes after other politicians have openly voiced their support for a free internet without differential tariffs, where all products, big or small, have a level-playing field and consumers are not compartmentalised or discriminated against. 

"This entire outrage has mainly been triggered by the TRAI consultation. The TRAI consultation paper in my opinion is one of the lowest points in the TRAI's checkered history. Because it is a document that almost pre-supposes almost suggest a bias towards the TELCOs and a bias away from Net Neutrality into anti-comparative behaviour. And that is where most of the anger and the angst amongst consumers is coming from," said Independent MP in Rajya Sabha, Rajeev Chandrashekhar.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has already tweeted his support for Net Neutrality as have other politicians like Trinamool Congress' Derek O'Brien and Biju Janata Dal's Jay Panda. Another BJD MP Tathagatha Sathpathy has written a strong letter to TRAI. BJP ally Shiv Sena has already said it will bring up the issue in Parliament.

Last afternoon, Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said there is a need to strive for non-discriminatory net availability. The BJP today reiterated it. 

"The BJP's position on Net Neutrality is the same as the government. We are for an open internet and we don't want any kind of discrimination. The minister has articulated saying we want equality of every citizen," said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.

The government will have to wait for recommendations from the telecom regulator as well as the ministry's high-level committee report before it takes a call on policy issues, even as TRAI continues to receive emails and responses from lakhs of netizens.



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