Tech

Final Call for Copy-Pasting Your Protests Against TRAI

The people behind the ‘Save the Internet’ campaign, who instigated a groundswell of digital protests in March this year against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s controversial policy paper on net neutrality, sounded a ‘final call’ on the eve of Independence Day for people to register their disagreement with the government’s position on the topic. They wrote on their blog,

Despite our 1 million+ emails, the Department of Telecommunications released a draft report with recommendations which appear to favour the creation of a license raj for Internet voice calls and other communication services in India, and can allow telecom operators to create private walled gardens using Zero Rating.

The post was accompanied by a link to a new video from the comedy group All India Bakchod, which had played a central role in galvanising support for the cause in March. The video has the group’s members reiterating the importance of securing net neutrality in the country – without enumerating its nuances – and exhorting its viewers to leave their comments on the mygov.in website.

A thread was also kicked off on the social news site reddit with links to the video and the comments page, as well as seven template-responses crafted by different users, articulating overlapping but equivalent points of view endorsed by the ‘Save the Internet’ group, that people could copy-paste.

While the movement in March elicited surprise from observers for being so passionate and widespread, it drew flak soon after for projecting net neutrality as a monolithic entity devoid of gray areas. Experts have voiced similar concerns with the latest call, especially for not defining ‘zero-rating’ before asking people to be against it.

Zero-rating is the technique whereby data from a certain source is not charged for passing through a particular patch of the network while data from other sources is. It was last mentioned in the aftermath of a DoT report, compiled in May, which suggested regulating domestic VoIP calls made over apps like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber. Through the ensuing clamour, Pranesh Prakash of the Centre for Internet and Society wrote in a live-chat with The Hindu on July 18, 2015,

If you want free access to WhatsApp, you might wish to support zero-rating. But I’m guessing you don’t want that either. People are hard to please.

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  • http://www.medianama.com Nikhil Pahwa

    1. We’ve given sample responses, in case people wish to use those. We haven’t asked people to copypaste responses. This is because, in March, before SaveTheInternet went live (and before the AIB video went live), we were inundated with requests for people to suggest responses that they can use/refer to. They’re free to use their own text, or disagree with the point of view we’ve shared, or make their own recommendations. If you go through the comments on MyGov, most of the comments aren’t those from Savetheinternet.in.

    2. To say that we haven’t explained our point of view is disingenuous. If you go through the Savetheinternet.in blog, or through our public FAQs (http://www.tinyurl.com/TRAIfaqs ), op-eds, tweets, facebook updates, among others, from our volunteers, as well as videos. The AIB video explains the potential outcomes of instituting Zero Rating and the demands for licensing of local VoIP. We chose a shorter video with a call to action. If you search around, you’ll also find videos of some of us explaining the nuances, and of some of us participating in debates. Some of us, including me, have published our submissions to the regulator online.

    To say that we’ve asked people to copypaste responses is factually incorrect. To say that we haven’t explained our point of view is disingenuous.

    To the last point about people not wanting free Whatsapp, perhaps you might wish to watch the AIB video: the dangers of one app being free made versus another are explained there.

    This article is just snark for snarks sake.