Taking the net neutrality campaign offline, a large number of students, hacktivists, IT employees, academics and lawyers held a public meeting in Hyderabad's Gachibowli area on Tuesday to protest against the Free Basics initiative by Facebook.
Reporting that Professor KS Rajan, from IIIT, and Professor L Pratap Reddy from JNTU were some of the speakers present, the Deccan Chronicle adds:
Prof. Rajan said that the internet is a great gateway to spread knowledge and education. Like every knowledge system, the internet should be open, accessible and affordable to all and should not be controlled by a few corporations and said that Free Basics would create barriers instead of creating digital equality. Prof. Reddy underlined the importance of the fight for net neutrality and how Free Basics would lead to digital colonisation.
The protest was organized by Swecha, an affiliate of the Free Software Movement of India, and saw hundreds gather and singing, sloganeering and banner bearing.
For the past few weeks, Facebook users across India have received a notification informing them that many of their friends have sent a message to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asking them to support â€śFree Basics in Indiaâ€ť.
This is has come following TRAIâ€™s second round of consultation on certain questions around Net Neutrality in India.
An online petition titled 'TRAI: Don't allow differential pricing of services on the Internet. Let the consumers choose how they want to use Internet. #netneutrality' has also surfaced and already 3 lakh signatures at the time of writing.
TRAI has also opened up for its next round of emails to consider net neutrality in India. Visit 'Save the internet' to send your email supporting net neutrality.
As the Government of India has been working towards "open standards, open data and open source" since its digitization drive in 2012, "Why should it now hinder the fourth element 'open access'? Free Basics is cartelisation of the internet where Facebook will decide what Indiaâ€™s rural poor or any other internet user should read, hear or watch online," Mr. Rajan told The Hindu after his address at the event.