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Odisha CM jumps on to Net Neutrality bandwagon


Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 16:

The Odisha government today jumped onto the Net Neutrality bandwagon urging the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to safeguard its basic principles, which has become one of the greatest concerns for internet users in the country.

net neutralityIn a letter to Rahul Khullar, chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the IT sector is at the top of the agenda of the state government today as Odisha has been in the forefront of the IT revolution in the country. Besides, the state government is also implementing a number of e-governance projects including ‘Digital India’, he added.

Expressing concern over the basic principles of this medium, the Chief Minister said while the internet forms the crux of the upcoming projects of the state government in the IT sector, the restrictive measures adopted by some service providers would prove a detriment to the growth of this sector.

Justifying his contention, the Chief Minister said this is not an issue of just the elite as it is being made out to be, as it would also affect even the poor because so many services are delivered over the internet today.

“While the government is trying to extend its services to the people through this medium since it is effective and inexpensive, I do not agree with the thought that this is a compartment meant for the elite only. Present usage of the net seems to encompass everyone, rich or poor, particularly the younger people,” he noted.

Patnaik said TRAI should make efforts to ensure that access to the internet for an Indian citizen anywhere in the country means un-throttled and equal access to the full spectrum of the open World Wide Web in practice.

“This is especially important since the Internet is key to the unparalleled ability to exercise the right to access knowledge and free expression, which are empowering our younger generations, to drive India to the forefront of the 21st Century,” he said in the letter.

“While presently the youth of this country is paying a very high cost for an inefficient net connection, I do not see any justification in limiting the ability of new start-up companies to reach the net user. Nor do I feel that there should be compulsions on the users by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to use particular Apps for reasons best known to them. Let us remember that the internet is not the market-place but the market is made inside the internet,” he observed.

Voicing his protest against the new principles, the Chief Minister said while the under-privileged deserve much more than what is available, nobody should decide about their specific requirements.

“But if you dictate what the poor should get, you take away their rights to choose what they think is best for them. You cannot force a person to use a certain mobile application because the telecom company believes that it should be doing so. Digital India requires that we help ensure that the innovation and entrepreneurship made possible by a dynamic Internet is further encouraged and not allowed to be influenced by discriminatory practices”, he reminded the TRAI chief.

The chief minister requested the TRAI not to favour regressive measures such as licensing online services.

“Since India needs progressive IT laws, TRAI should bear in mind that legitimate and limited regulation should not turn into over-regulation. Other measures which cater to the aspirations of young Indians to create a modern and internet enabled society must be assisted. This will only be possible by an open internet that can reach out to the poorest of the poor and help change their lives,” Patnaik said.