Open Letter To PM: Internet.org Won’t Make India Digital, It Will Kill Net Neutrality

Posted on October 10, 2015 in Sci- Tech

By Abhishek Choubey:

You went to Facebook headquarters, did a Q&A session over there, Mark changed his profile picture to tri-colour saying that he’s supporting Digital India campaign.

People start thinking that our PM is making India’s presence felt all over the world. But Mark’s not a fool, he knows that supporting the Digital India campaign will indirectly let him promote Internet.org in our country.

If you don’t know what Internet.org is, let me explain.

modi-mark

As per Facebook:

Internet.org is a partnership between the social networking company Facebook and six other companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) that plan to bring affordable access to selected Internet services to less developed countries, and facilitate development by connecting them through Internet, to the world.

Now the reality:

Internet.org is a Facebook proxy targeting India’s poor, i.e. giving them restricted access to Facebook and similar websites, including the websites that are under the internet.org campaign, for free. For other websites not under Internet.org we have to pay much more.

Sir, we need Net neutrality, otherwise:

1) We will not be able to get access to all websites available on the Internet with the data plan we have.

2) We will have to pay, separately, to access the websites, ie. we will have to pay to access Youtube, Flipkart, even Facebook (if some service provider doesn’t let you access it, as of now only Reliance has agreed to give free access) and so on.

3) We will be paying to use WhatsApp, Hike, and such messenger apps separately.

4) We have to pay to use Ola or Uber or any other app, including games.

5) Even access to the IRCTC app will be subjected to payment.
The list goes on…

If there was no Net Neutrality, companies such as Flipkart, Snapdeal, and other Indian ventures wouldn’t have managed to get where they are (since Amazon was already in the market). Do you think people will buy a separate plan to access the upcoming startups’ websites they barely know about?

This will be a blow for startups, and the fight to promote and spread awareness about startups would become that much harder. They are the building blocks for the improvement of our country’s economy. If you want to turn the 8 trillion economy to 20 trillion, you have to maintain Net Neutrality so that people can access the websites available on the internet equally, so that people could use the new websites as much as the established ones.

The internet is responsible for innovation (directly or indirectly), by providing access to knowledge, and freedom of speech. And these are possible in large parts due to Net Neutrality, the idea that internet service providers give their customers equal access to all lawful websites and services available on the internet, in a single data plan, without giving priority to any website over another.

This is something that has let the economy enhance, and let people get connected to each other all over the world. Instead of Internet.org, give free or low-cost Internet to areas that need it (as Microsoft has agreed to give.) Otherwise, the poor will only then get limited to access to Facebook, and the websites under Internet.org, and not others. This wouldn’t let them connect to the world, and as a result they would have to pay more for accessing other websites.

Sir, please don’t support Internet.org. It will not help India become Digital, it will only let people become members of Facebook, and that will only develop Facebook. If an Indian made a social networking website, do you think people will pay separately to access it, knowing that Facebook is giving its services for free? And if you think so, you are our next KRK, Sir. How will our people start their companies effectively then? It’ll ensure that there are no new start-ups, and the entrepreneurs will fail miserably.

Please, Sir, let Net Neutrality stay. Do not allow internet.org in India.

A humble request from a common man from India.

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.