In the past weeks, the Indian Internet community, including many Mozillians, has been writing to TRAI in response to the consultation paper on regulating OTT services. Mozilla India was active in the campaign and appealed Indian users to voice their opinion in the net neutrality debate in India. This campaign raised critical questions on zero rated programs like Airtel Zero and Facebook’s Internet.org and its negative impact on the open Web.
While still exploring the various options available to bring Internet to billions who haven't experienced the open Web, Mozilla's Executive Chairwoman, Mitchell Baker, has written a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in support of the open Web and net neutrality.
The letter introduces Mozilla's firm belief that all people should be able to experience the full diversity of the Web and asserts that zero-rating, as it stands now, is not the right solution to enable this, while agreeing on the need for new and alternative market solutions to bring people online to the open Web.
The letter highlights Mozilla's commitment to do our part alongside the other actors in the Internet community to address the challenges in achieving higher Internet penetration.
The letter speaks about the concept of "innovation without permission" and how licensing, as proposed by TRAI, can be troublesome and oppressive, possibly preventing Indians themselves from building the next Internet giant. It also calls on the Government to create strong laws for protecting net neutrality to avoid harmful practices associated with net discrimination and to establish an enabling environment for development on the Web.
Mozilla's stance and concerns about the zero-rating are spelled out by the Policy team in a post in the Mozilla Policy Blog and its companion piece by Mitchell Baker on her blog. These posts give us an idea of the nuances of the issue at hand and an overview of the solutions we need to actively pursue.
The net policy blog post also acknowledges the efforts of the Indian Internet community, including Mozillians in highlighting our concerns with zero-rating and its impact on an open Internet and states in unequivocal terms:
"We understand the temptation to say “some content is better than no content,” choosing a lesser degree of inclusion over openness and equality of opportunity. But it shouldn't be a binary choice; technology and innovation can create a better way, even though these new models may take some time to develop. Furthermore, choosing limited inclusion today, even though it offers short-term benefits, poses significant risk to the emergence of an open, competitive platform that will ultimately stifle inclusion and economic development"
Mozilla India would like to thank Mitchell Baker and the Policy team for understanding the concerns raised by Indian net neutrality advocates and their timely intervention in support of net neutrality and open Web.