Indian companies withdraw from Facebook's Internet.org initiative on net neutrality grounds
Indian travel portal Cleartrip and media conglomerates NDTV and Times Group have withdrawn support for Facebook's Internet.org program, citing net neutrality concerns.
Internet.org made its debut in India earlier this year, with Facebook partnering with carrier Reliance in launching the initiative. Several content producers were on board to provide free access to their services to Reliance's subscribers, but the recent debate in the country centering around Airtel's controversial Airtel Zero program — which allows select app makers bear the burden of data charges incurred by its customers — has had a caustic effect on Facebook's Internet.org as well.
NDTV's co-founder Prannoy Roy and media house Times Internet confirmed their exit from Internet.org via tweets:
NDTV is committed to net neutrality and is therefore exiting, and will not be a part of, Facebook's https://t.co/r3IZLs9qEJ initiative.NDTV is committed to net neutrality and is therefore exiting, and will not be a part of, Facebook's https://t.co/r3IZLs9qEJ initiative.— Prannoy Roy (@PrannoyRoyNDTV) April 15, 2015April 15, 2015
Times Group commits to withdraw from https://t.co/rpR9qR5yCi; appeals to fellow publishers to follow https://t.co/N3DmjKINrh #SaveTheInternetTimes Group commits to withdraw from https://t.co/rpR9qR5yCi; appeals to fellow publishers to follow https://t.co/N3DmjKINrh #SaveTheInternet— Times Internet (@Timesinternet) April 15, 2015April 15, 2015
Cleartrip CEO Subramanya Sharma took to the company blog to voice his feelings on the issue:
Proponents of net neutrality argue that initiatives such as Airtel Zero — which offer select content for free — stifle competition, and go against the ethos of a free and neutral internet. There are several campaigns underway in the country, such as SaveTheInternet, that are actively asking citizens to share their opinions on initiatives like Airtel Zero. Thus far, the campaign has resulted in over 600,000 e-mails sent to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), an independent regulatory body that advices the Indian legislative bodies on issues relating to the telecom industry.
Source: Twitter (NDTV), Twitter (Times Internet), Cleartrip
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia for Android Central, Windows Central's sister site. When not reviewing phones, he's testing PC hardware, including video cards, motherboards, gaming accessories, and keyboards.