Google takes anti-net neutrality stance in India: Report
Global search engine giant Google is possibly lobbying against net neutrality in India by asking the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) to support zero rating plans that allow people to use some web services for free. Such zero rating plans are against the basic tenets of net neutrality.
IAMAI represents some of the largest Internet firms in the country including Facebook, which has publicly taken a stance against banning of zero rating plans.
According to a MediaNama report, an email exchange between Google and IAMAI suggests that the former “strongly pushed” for the removal of any mention of zero rating plans from the IAMAI’s submission to the Department of Telecom in response to its report on net neutrality. The news and analysis website has access to copies of the purported emails, it mentions.
One alleged email (dated August 14, 2015) from Vineeta Dixit, a member of Google’s public policy and government relations team to the IAMAI government relations committee has specifically asked for the removal of any reference to zero rating in its submission to the DoT, arguing that there was no consensus among internet companies on the issue.
Zero rating allows telecom operators to selectively offer its users access to certain applications/websites without incurring any data charges. Developers and web service providers who sign up for this plan will have to pay the telecom provider a ‘distinct’ amount of money to make their apps and services free of charge for end users.
Zero rating that came into limelight in India when Airtel decided to offer its own plan, called Airtel Zero earlier in the year. The plan was a clear cut violation of net neutrality that envisages an internet which has a level playing field.
Google itself has been part of zero rated plans in India with Airtel though it has seemingly put on hold its own plans to provide free data to end users in India. That said, the Mountain View company has been silent on the whole net neutrality debate in India. It has not participated in the consultation process for net neutrality and has not submitted any comments to the TRAI on the issue. Also it decided not to depose before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT looking into net neutrality, even after receiving a specific invite from it.
The Medianama report adds that only Facebook in the IAMAI has taken a stand supporting zero rating, as suggested by another set of alleged emails.