tech2 News StaffApr 16, 2015 17:10:48 IST
Online travel services provider Cleartrip today pulled out of Facebook and Reliance Communications-promoted platform internet.org as the debate over Net neutrality widens, a day after Flipkart walked out from Airtel Zero.
"Time to draw a line in the sand, Cleartrip is pulling out of Internet.org and standing up for #NetNeutrality," Cleartrip said on microblogging site Twitter.
— Cleartrip (@Cleartrip) April 15, 2015
Details of the decision to withdraw from Internet.org, which was launched in February this year in India, could not come through as an e-mail query went unanswered.
Besides, NDTV has also decided not to be a part of Internet.org.
The Times of India and some of its language websites are in support for net neutrality, and are appealing to all publishers to jointly withdraw from Internet.org. TimesJobs and Maharashtra Times, whose competitors are not on zero-rate platforms, will pull out of internet.org. However, Times of India reportedly said it supports net neutrality and will withdraw from internet.org only if its direct competitors like India Today, NDTV, IBNLive, NewsHunt, and BBC pull out. They are reportedly also appealing to Jagran, Aaj Tak, Amar Ujala, Maalai Malar, Reuters, and Cricinfo to withdraw from zero rate schemes.
Trai chairman Rahul Khullar says there is the need for democratic debate on net neutrality, and also points out a corporate war between 'a media house' and 'a telecom operator'. He told The Indian Express, "There are passionate voices on both sides of the debate. And if that was not enough, there’s a corporate war going on between a media house and a telecom operator which is confounding already difficult matters."
Earlier in the day, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg rejected criticism that the internet.org programme, which has RCom as a partner in India, was against the concept of Net neutrality.
"For people who are not on the Internet though, having some connectivity and some ability to share is always much better than having no ability to connect and share at all. That's why programmes like internet.org are important and can co-exist with Net neutrality regulations," he said.
Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative which states that it aims to bring 5 billion people online in partnership with tech giants like Samsung and Qualcomm.
Facebook's partnership with Reliance Communications to provide free Internet access to 33 websites as part of its internet.org initiative has raised eyebrows, with free Internet activists saying it violates the idea of Net neutrality.
The debate in India has been triggered by mobile operator Airtel introducing an open marketing platform, Airtel Zero, and TRAI's consultation paper on whether telecom firms can be allowed to charge different rates for Internet data like e-mail, browsing and use of apps like Whatsapp, Viber and Sky.
Net neutrality implies equal treatment for all Internet traffic and no priority given to an entity or company based on payment to service providers like telecom companies, which is seen as discriminatory.
Yesterday, Flipkart founder Sachin Bansal said: "...after looking in deeper, we realised that Net neutrality can get compromised in future, which we are not supportive of at all."
With inputs from PTI
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