Congress slams suggestions on net neutrality

New Delhi, (IANS) The Congress on Friday described as “anti-consumer” a high-level government panel’s suggestion that people should not be allowed to make free domestic calls through messaging applications like WhatsApp and Skype using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services.

Talking to the media here, Congress leader Salman Khurshid said net neutrality was a matter related to “real democracy” and should be supported.

He said party vice-president Rahul Gandhi took a lead in the matter and raised the issue in parliament.

Khurshid said the condition that people be allowed to access internet messenger services such as WhatsApp without interference of service providers “has not been met”.

He added that the recommendations do not reflect thinking of young people “who are trying to break monopolies”.

Khurshid said a distinction was sought to be made between domestic calling and international calling options.

“It is bowing to a particular lobby. The manner in which they (the government) want it to be regulated (is) not healthy, not welcome for democracy,” he said.

The panel headed by technocrat A.K. Bhargava, that was asked to look at the whole gamut of net neutrality, has suggested that free regime for domestic calls made through internet messenger services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype be benchmarked against regular telecom service providers for tariff and regulation.

It has said other communication services offered by them dealing with messaging should not be interfered with through regulation.

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