Rahul Gandhi attacks Modi govt over net neutrality

Rahul Gandhi attacks Modi govt over net neutrality

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi raised the issue of net neutrality in the Parliament on Wednesday and accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to give away internet space to corporates.

Addressing the issue in Lok Sabha, Rahul said that the youths are today fighting for net neutrality and the government should look into changing or introducing a competent law on it.

If they (govt) wanted to protect net neutrality then why did they start the consultation process, asked Rahul.

Like land is being snatched away, Internet is also being snatched away. It’s going to affect the youth of nation, he added.

Meanwhile, responding to charges levelled by the Gandhi scion, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government is not acting under any pressure from the corporates and it will never do so in future either.

Prasad added that it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision that Internet should be made available to people in a non-discriminatory manner.

“When PM talks of Digital India, he means that 125 crore people of India should have access to Internet. We are committed towards it,” he said.

When asked by a reporter to respond if Rahul is doing politics on the issue, Prasad said “absolutely”.

Prasad said this while talking to reporters outside Parliament,

“ They (Congress) still don’t do their homework. TRAI is an independent body but its recommendations are not binding on government,” Prasad said.

Prasad also reiterated that the BJP government is committed to providing equal access to Internet for all.

Earlier this morning, Rahul Gandhi gave a notice demanding the suspension of Question Hour to allow a debate on the net neutrality issue in the Lok Sabha.

‘I will speak briefly in Parliament on net neutrality,’ Rahul Gandhi said while speaking briefly to reporters today.

An adjournment motion involves an element of censure against the Government. However, it is up to the Speaker to decide on taking up the motion.

A strong plea was made yesterday in the Lower House for ensuring net neutrality with demands that the recent consultation paper brought out by TRAI should be scrapped and attempts by certain telecom and internet service providers be scuttled.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, MB Rajesh of CPI-M had alleged that the consultation paper brought out by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India was “blatantly supporting” assault on net neutrality by telecom and internet service providers.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan then said a notice should be given for a half-an-hour discussion and she would allow it.

Interestingly, the Congress party supports net neutrality and maintains that free internet is a pre-requisite for dissemination of ideas and growth of freedom in the 21st century.

The issue has been making headlines after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) proposed to regulate over-the-top internet services, like applications with the ability to make phone calls etc.

Thousands have since then joined ‘Save the Internet’ campaign and sent over 1 lakh emails to TRAI asking it to uphold internet freedom.

Amid massive online protests to maintain unhindered access to the internet for all, the government has indicated that it will go by the opinion of the majority of people. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said that the government fully supports net neutrality.

“My government is serious about the issue. It will do all that is possible to uphold the freedom of internet. TRAI’s report in this regard will be considered by Telecom Commission first,” he said.

However, a final call would be taken after examining the TRAI report and the Telecom committee’s recommendations in the second week of May, he said. The government has also sought responses of people by April 24, he added.

Congress had earlier threatened to raise the issue in Parliament forcefully when its sits again for the second half of the Budget Session, keeping in view that India has 24.31 crore “Internet Users”, out of which 17.30 crore are “Mobile Internet Users’.

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