Net neutrality: Congress accuses government of favouring corporates

New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) The Congress on Saturday accused the Narendra Modi government of attempting to “break the connect” in use of internet messaging services such as WhatsApp and Viber, and alleged that this was being done to “favour a few corporates”.

Congress spokesperson R.P.N. Singh said that applications like WhatsApp and Viber have become a major connecting and communicating medium for millions of people across the world.

“The Modi government is making repeated attempts to break this connect in order to favour a few corporate who will manipulate charges on the basis of the recent DOT (department of telecommunications) report,” he said in a statement.

He alleged that the committee appointed by Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has acceded to the demands of the telecom industry at the cost of the common mobile user.

“In India there are about 10 crore users on WhatAapp and similar services. However, recommendations of the DOT to make these services chargeable will adversely affect all, especially users in the rural areas,” Singh said.

He said a mobile phone user wants free access to popular applications such as WhatsApp and Viber and he also wants that the service provider does not interfere with the free access to websites/content on the internet.

“Unfortunately, both the above aspects have been compromised in the report on net neutrality. This again is typical BJP game hoodwinking and fleecing the common man even as the prime minister and Prasad assured the nation to the contrary,” he said.

The panel headed by technocrat A.K. Bhargava, that was asked to look at the whole gamut of net neutrality, suggested earlier this week that free regime for domestic calls made through internet messenger services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype be benchmarked against regular telecom service providers for tariff and regulation. It has said other communication services offered by them dealing with messaging should not be interfered with through regulation.

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