Internet calls: Left parties to take up issue in Parliament

Day after a government panel proposed regulation of domestic calls made using internet-based applications such as WhatsApp at par with phone call services offered telecom players, Left parties Friday asked the Centre to ensure that internet users are not discriminated against.

New Delhi: Day after a government panel proposed regulation of domestic calls made using internet-based applications such as WhatsApp at par with phone call services offered telecom players, Left parties Friday asked the Centre to ensure that internet users are not discriminated against.

The CPI said it will take up the issue in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament, while the CPI(M) insisted that the government ensure non-discriminatory services.

"In principle, we are for 'net neutrality'. Such recommendation (like the panel's) may affect users. These are all technical issues and we need to examine those in the interest of customers. We definitely will take up the issue in Parliament (Monsoon Session of which begins on July 21)," CPI national secretary D Raja said.

CPI(M) parliamentarian Mohammad Salim seconded Raja and said universal services should remain accessible to all.

"The service providers can not discriminate (against internet users). It is a universal service, it should remain accessible to all. The network should not be (provided) based on net worth (of users)," Salim said, adding that even the poorest segment has right to access technology.

The DoT panel on 'net neutrality' in its report has proposed regulation of domestic calls made using internet-based calling applications such as Skype, Whatsapp and Viber, and put them on par with phone call services offered by telecom operators.

The panel has opposed projects like Facebook's Internet.Org, which allow access to certain websites without mobile data charges, while suggesting that similar plans such as Airtel Zero be allowed with prior clearance from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

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