We once thought, after reading a discussion on net neutrality in the US, that such a crisis would never arrive to our shores.
But it did.
Thanks to Bharti Airtel, thanks to lobby group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), thanks to Google and Facebook being members of such an organisation, thanks to TRAI betraying the Indian people by willingly giving in to pressure from the COAI, and thanks to the weak attitude of the giants of the Indian industries to fully divest themselves from such plans.
On the contrary, Flipkart initially supported Airtel Zero, media conglomerates Times Group, NDTV and ClearTrip initially supported Facebook’s Internet.org in partnership with RCOM. Initially plans for VOIP packs were going to become reality (and they still are). And there were many misguided individuals who believed these telecoms were doing the right thing.
Even those who saw their trickery, ended up being fooled.
You see, it was the old petition trick again. There’s a petition. It might just be that it will get enough signatures, it will reach the attention of the company / organisation, and they will change their mind. Yeah, right.
No, it didn’t. And here’s why. Petitions never work. They’ll never work. They’re just ways for consumers to think they’re doing the right thing, to think they can change something big, in this case save the Internet.
Nice name for a site. The idea seemed excellent too. TRAI itself had published a consultation paper on OTT services and net neutrality and wanted the opinions of the Indian people as to how an appropriate framework could be built.
Awesome, right? All we had to do was to send a copy-pasted response to TRAI to demand net neutrality and the abolishing of its violators such as zero rating plans, discrimination and the lot.
Trouble is, it doesn’t work out this way. Anyone could have actually read TRAI’s paper and worked out that it wasn’t really written by TRAI: they’d been sold out. They had given in. The paper was not a TRAI paper, it was actually a COAI paper.
And still people thought COAI, oh sorry TRAI, could respond positively to 1.1 million emails.
TRAI, which is in reality now controlled by COAI, had no intention of ever doing that. How could it? After all, the power of the lobbying group was immense, and they were the ones anti-net neutrality in the first place.
The deadline for sending emails was April 24. Then on April 27, a lot of hopes blew themselves out. They burned to ashes.
It happened. TRAI showed its true colours by publishing all those emails with their email addresses which the people of India had idealistically sent, hoping it would change the situation.
Change the situation? What a laugh they were actually having on us. Now all those people who sent the emails – 1.1 million emails – are ruing that action again and again. The email addresses and in many cases phone numbers and real postal addresses are plainly visible for everyone to see.
The key point? April 27 was a great day for spammers. They got access to 1.1 million email addresses, the vast majority of them real and verified accounts.
And it will, we’re sorry to say, result in something we all hate. More spam. More and more spam. Online mail has got pretty good spam filters now, but it’s annoying still because the data has been sold to an unknown company.
Data that people normally guard preciously online, yet of course they trusted TRAI. Of course they did.
Nice day for online privacy, everyone.
Over and out.
P.S. They were hacked as a result, but it doesn’t make any difference. And oh, if you want a full-fledged explanation of what net neutrality is, does it exist now, do we need it and why, then stay tuned. Detailed analysis coming up.