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Net Neutrality: Congress accuses BJP of favoring corporates

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Congress on Saturday accused the Narendra Modi government of attempting to “break the connect” in use of internet messaging services such as WhatsApp and Viber, and alleged that this was being done to “favour a few corporates”.

Congress spokesperson R.P.N. Singh said that applications like WhatsApp and Viber have become a major connecting and communicating medium for millions of people across the world.

“The Modi government is making repeated attempts to break this connect in order to favour a few corporates who will manipulate charges on the basis of the recent DOT (department of telecommunications) report,” he said in a statement.

He alleged that the committee appointed by Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has acceded to the demands of the telecom industry at the cost of the common mobile user.

“In India there are about 10 crore users on WhatAapp and similar services. However, recommendations of the DOT to make these services chargeable will adversely affect all, especially users in the rural areas,” Singh said.

He said a mobile phone user wants free access to popular applications such as WhatsApp and Viber and he also wants that the service provider does not interfere with the free access to websites/content on the internet.

“Unfortunately, both the above aspects have been compromised in the report on net neutrality. This again is typical BJP game hoodwinking and fleecing the common man even as the prime minister and Prasad assured the nation to the contrary,” he said.

The panel headed by technocrat A.K. Bhargava, that was asked to look at the whole gamut of net neutrality, suggested earlier this week that free regime for domestic calls made through internet messenger services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype be benchmarked against regular telecom service providers for tariff and regulation.

The panel said that other communication services offered by them dealing with messaging should not be interfered with through regulation.

(With inputs from IANS)

 

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Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Faces First Defeat in Congress

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal.

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Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro arrives at the inauguration ceremony of the new president of the Parliamentary Front of Agriculture (FPA), at the Clube Naval, in Brasilia, Jan. 19, 2019. VOA

Brazil’s lower chamber handed right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro his first defeat in Congress on Tuesday, the day before his government presents its most important legislative proposal to rein in a gaping budget deficit and spur growth.

The house voted overwhelmingly to suspend an executive order by the Bolsonaro government that altered Brazil’s freedom of information law to broaden the number of officials allowed to designate data and documents as secret or ultra-secret.

Lawmakers voted 367 to 57 to fast-track a bill overturning the secrecy measure and government whips were unable to muster votes to avoid defeat.

The bill must still be voted on by the Senate, but the reversal showed that Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1, has not yet been able to organize a coalition in Congress to back his legislative agenda.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro will send to Congress his plan to overhaul Brazil’s generous and costly pension system that eats up more than half of federal spending and is the main factor behind an unsustainable budget deficit.

Brazil, Bolsonaro
FILE – Gustavo Bebianno in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 29, 2018. VOA

Approval of pension reform is vital for the recovery of investor confidence in Latin America’s largest economy.

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal involving campaign financing for some of his party’s congressional candidates in the October elections.

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The ousted minister, Gustavo Bebianno, was instrumental in getting Bolsonaro elected but had a run-in with one of the president’s sons, triggering the weeks-old government’s first cabinet crisis.

In a note to clients, analysts at Eurasia Group said the scandal indicated the administration’s political team was in disarray, but they still expected the pension reform to get passed, albeit in a less ambitious version. (VOA)