Nasscom stands in support of Net Neutrality, opposes Airtel Zero and Free Basics by Facebook plans

Nasscom has opposed Airtel Zero and Facebook’s Free Basics platforms stating that it violate basic net neutrality principles. In the opinion of Nasscom, it is not in favour of any new idea or approach where telecom service providers have a final right in choosing a content that is made available at favourable rates or speeds.

The IT body further stated that it had already submitted its feedback on this issue to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

In its feedback, the body had requested TRAI not to permit operators to fix prices for different kinds of services separately such as higher prices for video streaming, accessing news portals and e-commerce websites. The body feels that this kind of separation is unacceptable since it violates the basic principles of net neutrality and will amount to discrimination.

The regulator had invited feedback from the public till January 7, 2015, related to differential data pricing. Airtel recently decided to charge separately for Internet-based calls but the company was forced to withdraw after people protested against the decision. This was followed by heated debates across various circles.

Facebook is facing heat over its Free Basics service in association with Reliance, which was previously called as Internet.org. The company fears that the platform is on the verge of getting banned in India. However, the company has been showcasing the features of the program through full-page advertisements in print media.

TRAI has advised Reliance not to launch the Facebook’s Free Basics till the issue on differential pricing is sorted out. Nasscom, in the written feedback to the regulator, has highlighted several key additional problems that might crop up if this system is implemented.

Nasscom is of the opinion that differential pricing should not become a tool that facilitates market dominance. It should not result in direct or indirect commercial benefit by leveraging the value of customer data that gets generated in the process.

The absence of a privacy law in India has created a situation of widespread misuse of vital information for commercial profits and interests.

It is high time that Government should formulate a law with clear cut instructions which are drafted in consultation with cyber law experts.

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