Rahul bats in parliament for net neutrality

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New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused the NDA government of trying to carve out the internet for “some corporates” and demanded a new law to address net neutrality.

Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha during zero hour, Gandhi, who is back from a 56-day sabbatical, said: “Every youth should have a right to the net… But the government is trying to hand over the internet to some corporates.”

“I would request the government to please change the law or make a new law to ensure net neutrality,” he said.

The Congress vice president said net neutrality was a complicated term, but this means that the youth has the freedom to use the net.

“One million people have registered for net neutrality,” he added.

Responding to Gandhi’s charges, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said while it was good that the Congress leader raised the issue, he “should not make insinuations against the government”.

Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “This government appreciates net activism of the youth. Our prime minister has said we have to make net available without discrimination”.

He has directed us to ensure that there should be mobile governance. “We want net for everybody.”

“Neither is our government under pressure of any corporate nor will it ever be,” he said.

Prasad said while the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has the power to debate, the government has the power to take a decision.

“We want to ensure internet for everybody. We have asked for a report within two weeks,” he added.

Prasad said Congress should also answer questions as to why in August 2012, the twitter handles of some people had been blocked.

Prasad’s comment created a furore in opposition benches.

Gandhi sought to ask a clarification “of ten seconds”. But Speaker Sumitra Mahajan refused permission, firmly saying no questions can be asked during zero hour.

Outside the house, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury backed net neutrality and said: “I think ours is the only party which has passed a motion on this in its national congress.”

Network neutrality, or open inter-working, means that in accessing the World Wide Web, one is in full control over how to go online, where to go and what to do, as long as these are lawful. It advocates that firms that provide Internet services should treat all lawful Internet content in a neutral manner.

Gandhi had earlier moved an adjournment motion in the matter and sought suspension of question hour to urgently discuss the issue but this was turned down.

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