Flipkart pulls out of Airtel Zero due to social media backlash; says it strongly supports Net Neutrality
The battle for net neutrality got a boost on Tuesday with the e-commerce giant Flipkart pulling out of the Airtel Zero platform, with which it was in talks to partner with.
Airtel Zero will allow customers to access certain apps and websites without paying data charges as long as the makers of those apps and services pay certain revenue to Airtel for this free access. Experts argue that this is going against the concept of net neutrality, which demands that all data on the internet is equal and should not be discriminated against.
Flipkart has announced its decision after a widespread backlash against the firm on social media and users voting down its app on the Android and Apple stores after its CEO, Sachin Bansal, tweeted in support of Airtel Zero.
Flipkart has issued the following statement:
We at Flipkart have always strongly believed in the concept of net neutrality, as we exist because of the Internet. Over the past few days, there has been a great amount of debate, both internally and externally, on the topic of zero rating, and we have a deeper understanding of the implications. Based on this, we have decided on the following:
- We will walk away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel for their platform Airtel Zero.
- We are committed to ourselves to the larger cause of Net Neutrality in India. We will internally discuss over the next few days, the details of actions we will be able to take to support the cause of net neutrality.
- We give our best towards ensuring that the spirit of net neutrality is upheld and applied equally to all organizations in India irrespective of their size or the service being offered by them and there would be absolute no discrimination whatsoever.
- Net neutrality is currently a hot-button issue all over India. Over 3 lakh people have emailed their views to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) using SaveTheInternet.in, the country’s telecom regulatory authority, which recently released a 118-page consultation paper on regulating over-the-top services and inviting people’s responses.
The anti net neutrality debate had gained huge momentum in India with the savetheinternet website getting more than 3 million signatures since the debate started.