Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that the right to access the internet is non-negotiable and that “walled gardens cannot be allowed”, The Times of India reported.
The minister’s comments come in the backdrop of reported plans in the United States to repeal net neutrality rules that prohibit internet service providers from favouring certain websites and apps over others.
“India does not believe in exclusivity,” Prasad told the daily on Thursday on the sidelines of the Global Conference on Cyber Space. “When you talk about digital inclusion, we also mean internet inclusion, we also mean internet democracy.”
The internet is supposed to be democratic, the minister said in his speech at the two- day summit. “It is a big global platform, but must be linked the local ideas and concepts.”
The event was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union Houlin Zhao were also present.
Wickremesinghe talked of the need to ensure net neutrality and lauded India for banning zero-rating platforms such as Facebook Free Basics and Airtel Zero, The Hindu reported. “Similarly, the open Internet facilitated by net neutrality allows marginalised and oppressed segments that are not adequately represented in mainstream media to tell their story,” he pointed out.