- Unprecedented public response in India’s policy making history
- Citizens, businesses, startups and political leaders demand #NetNeutrality
- Volunteer-led “Save The Internet” Showcases Internet-enabled Model of Public Participation
23 April, Delhi - The SaveTheInternet.in Coalition, a group of over 50 volunteers from across India, concerned about safeguarding an open Internet and net neutrality, today announced that over one million email submissions had been sent to India’s telecom regulatory body, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), via savetheinternet.in. By sheer numbers, this is an unprecedented level of public participation in any regulatory consultation in India’s history.
In addition, everyday Internet users, hundreds of business leaders, artists and film personalities, political leaders, entrepreneurs and technologists have joined the discourse on the need to prevent Internet licensing and ensure rules to protect network neutrality. Such a cross section of society has rarely found reason to unite on complex issues of telecommunications and Internet regulation. In a way, every person today to some degree is invested in the effort to protect network neutrality.
The draft responses published on savetheinternet.in, ask TRAI for the following:
- No licensing of Internet content and communication apps and sites
- Legitimate and transparent network management without paid prioritisation to ensure stability of the network.
- A legal framework to protect Net Neutrality in India, to:
prevent predatory practices from telecom operators and Internet companies via paid discrimination between services, which restricts consumer choice in the long run;
address ‘zero rating’, which creates hurdles for new enterprises, reducing innovation & tech advancements.
On reaching the milestone, the volunteer group requests that in the absence of a recommendation from TRAI and any decision from the government, telecom companies be restricted from rolling out any plans and services which violate Net Neutrality, with prioritisation not pertaining to network management. The group also requests support from across political parties for an issue that impacts both the freedom of access to the Internet for all Indian citizens, and the survival of thousands of Internet-enabled Indian startups trying to Make In India.
Notes about the SavetheInternet.in platform and submissions to TRAI:
- The number of responses sent via savetheinternet.in could be higher than 1 million, since the savetheinternet.in platform counts only those submissions that are copied to its email addresses. Users have the ability to edit the template of responses to the TRAI and substitute them with their own. This process meets both the goals of adequate notice to a user as well as providing them the choice to change the answers which have been made by a group of expert volunteers. This process is novel and not been attempted in the past. It leverages the Internet to further participative democracy: each individual has the ability to make a unique representation to the government.
- The march towards one million is publicly documented through the twitter handle @bulletinbabu.
- The movement on Net Neutrality started on March 27, 2015, after a consultation paper from TRAI invited comments on the licensing of internet companies and the viability of network neutrality oversight in India.The consultation paper runs to 118 pages and contains several proposals which pose an existential threat to the way the Internet is accessed in India for each individual user. Realising the dangers of the licensing of internet services and the absence of network neutrality regulation, the SaveTheInternet.in campaign was formed after an open call for volunteers. The goal here was not only to petition TRAI but to educate and inform everyday users disconnected with regulatory consultation processes and involve them in the formation of public policy.
- Towards this, the coalition abridged the 118-page-long TRAI paper to a 24-page summary (read) along with a Frequently Asked Questions guide (read), set up in the first week of April. Both were created via an online collaborative process, and released on netneutrality.in, which now hosts detailed resources for users to read and form a position, as well as a set of other ways in which they can support the cause (eg.:reach out to parliamentarians asking for their support).
- On April 11, 2015, the coalition launched savetheinternet.in, which hosts a simple process for individuals to reach and to submit their views to the TRAI. In less than two weeks, more than a million people across India have used it to send in submissions.
- Realising the long-term impact violating net neutrality creates on competition and innovation, respected Indian brands like Flipkart, Cleartrip, Times Internet and NDTV have disassociated themselves from ‘zero rating’ efforts from Airtel and Facebook.
- SavetheInternet.in’s volunteers include concerned individuals from different walks of life: journalists, engineers, artists, web developers, policy experts, entrepreneurs and lawyers from across India. Some have been publicly vocal about their concerns; others have contributed anonymously.
- Political leaders, business leaders, film stars, artists and citizens across the spectrum have come out in support of net neutrality.
- Apar Gupta - +91-99900-00256
- Kiran Jonalgadda: +91-99452-35123
- Nikhil Pahwa: +91-98103-10053
- Raman Chima: +91-97176-53293
- Rohin Dharmakumar: +91-98451-20504