Indian Web and media companies Cleartrip, NDTV, Newshunt and the Times Group announced that they are pulling out of Facebook’s Internet.org service, an initiative that aims to bring free online content to underdeveloped markets.
The Huffington Post reports that the Indian heavyweights are stepping away from the zero-rated service in support of net neutrality, a set of principles that aims to maintain equal access to all online content for Web users.
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Their announcements come a day after major online retailer Flipkart withdrew from mobile operator Airtel’s upcoming Zero program, which will offer subscribers access to select Web services for free.
Many Web users in India have been voicing their opinions about programs like Internet.org and Airtel Zero which violate net neutrality principles.
Through multiple campaigns, net neutrality supporters have convinced citizens to send in over 600,000 emails to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which will take public opinion into consideration as it makes recommendations to legislative bodies in the coming weeks.
Internet.org, which launched in August 2013 and is available in eight countries, arrived in India in February in partnership with mobile carrier Reliance Communications.
While the news certainly spells a win for net neutrality, the battle is far from won. Even if netizens do get through to TRAI, the organization can only make recommendations to the Department of Telecom, a government body which is empowered to take real action.
We’ve contacted Facebook for comment and will update this post when we hear back.
➤ Blow To Internet.org As Indian Internet Companies Begin To Withdraw [The Huffington Post]
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