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.