Stepping up offensive on the net neutrality issue, Congress today staged a protest alleging that the move by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was against public interest and the Centre should stop it.
The TRAI had floated a public consultation paper on net neutrality seeking to know public views with today being the last day of submitting responses. The principle of net neutrality calls for equal treatment to be accorded to all internet traffic, without discrimination or priority for any person, entity or company.
Members of All India Youth Congress, National Students Union of India (NSUI) and functionaries of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee gathered at Jantar Mantar here supporting freedom to access internet without any discrimination and demanded that rights of the consumers be protected. The issue was raised by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha two days ago.
Leading the protest, Congress’ Delhi unit chief Ajay Maken alleged that the Centre was trying to empower corporates and telecom companies. “What we think is why internet companies and telecom operators should have right to decide if we should use WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter or buy (anything) from Flipkart or Amazon India. This right should be with consumer. Internet companies and private companies should not have this right.
“The Government wants to empower corporate sector and private companies to decide what we should use or not. Our fight is for consumers’ right and rights of the common man,” Maken said addressing the press.
Referring to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, he said Section 25 of the law gives power to the Centre to direct TRAI on any issue concerning public interest. “There is a provision in the Act that Government can direct TRAI on any public interest issue. When section 25 provides for such direction, why is the Government not giving any direction to TRAI?
“What can be the bigger public interest than this that their (consumers’) rights are protected? Our demand is that Government scrap TRAI’s activity and direct it as per the section (to ensure that) net neutrality is maintained and that private companies don’t have rights to impose upon their decisions on consumers relating which services to be used, purchase or not,” Maken said.
The party warned that it will intensify protests if the Government failed to meet its demands. Apart from Maken, AIYC general secretary Harshvardhan Shyam, NSUI president Roji John, party leaders Ragini Nayak and Delhi women Congress chief Onika Mehrortra were among those present during the rally.