Soon after DoT’s panel rejected internet.org, Facebook has come forward defending the venture saying, it is not gate keeping, rather it is a ‘gateway’ for people to access internet defying the cost, infrastructure and other social barriers existing in India today.
Facebook’s Vice-President for Mobile and Global Access Policy Kevin Martin said that the firm strongly stands for net neutrality. “We appreciate the points raised about gatekeepers to the Internet and agree with the Committee that we must ensure the Internet remain an open and neutral platform for expression and innovation,” Martin said reports Indian Express.
“The preservation of the core principles of net neutrality and the promotion of innovation and infrastructure within the context of India’s Internet access challenges are critical to bringing more people online,” Martin added.
Besides, Facebook also sought to remove the regulations DoT suggested on VoIP calls. “All telecommunications and taxation policies should promote competition, spur innovation, and foster increased connectivity,” Martin said. Facebook’s Whatsapp recently began offering VoIP calling facility .
DoT panel rejected internet.org saying it gave access only to a few websites until April 2015. Hence, it acted as gatekeeper by joining hands with content provider and decided which websites have to be reached to viewers, an entity which should be totally discouraged.
Net neutrality ensures equal treatment to all websites and no preference is given to any company or entity based on payment to content or service providers such as telecom companies, which is seen as discriminatory.
The issue gained a momentum when Airtel launched Airtel Zero, a zero rated plan that allows free access to some of the websites on its network. Although free for the users, the website owners pay for the service used by the users.