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Parliamentary Committee to discuss Net Neutrality issue today

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

After a long-running debate, the controversial net neutrality issue will be discussed today by a parliamentary committee in a special meeting. The gathering will also be attended by officials from telecom companies like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.

The main agenda of this meeting is to understand the views of telecom company officials on the topic that has been creating uproar for some time. In fact, even a number of MPs had spoken in favor of net neutrality in the Parliament during this year’s budget session.

According to sources, the views of telecom officials on net neutrality are very crucial for the proper understanding of the issue that triggered a storm after a consultation paper floated by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last month suggested that net neutrality could end.

Amid controversies, the issue has united almost all the political parties in India, be it BJP, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena or INC. Derek O’Brien from Trinamool Congress had even raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha regarding the subject of Internet equality.

When asked about his plans for today’s meeting, he said, “I am glad that Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari allowed Calling Attention Motion on it (earlier this month). And I am glad that the matter has gone to the next stage.”

He also said that he hopes the government will see ‘some sense’ and not consider the TRAI consultation paper.

The government has made it clear that no decision has been taken on the matter yet, and has also promised to ensure ‘non-discriminatory access to Internet’ to all citizens.

During the parliament session, IT and Telecom Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said, “Government stands for ensuring non-discriminatory access to internet for all citizens of the country. It is committed to the fundamental principles and concept of net neutrality, keeping the internet accessible and available to all without discrimination.”

While replying to the Calling Attention Motion in Rajya Sabha raised by Derek O’Brien, Prasad said, “Connectivity to internet must go in an unhindered manner. I assure the House that the key principles of net neutrality will be followed while following concerns with a national outlook.”

Next Story

Russian Lawmakers Come Up In Support For Bill on ‘Sovereign’ Internet

The bill faces two more votes in the lower chamber, before it is voted on in the upper house of parliament and then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

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The coat of arms of Russia is reflected in a laptop screen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 12, 2019. Pixabay

Russian lawmakers backed tighter internet controls on Tuesday to defend against foreign meddling in draft legislation that critics warn could disrupt Russia’s internet and be used to stifle dissent.

The legislation, which some Russian media have likened to an online “iron curtain,” passed its first of three readings in the 450-seat lower chamber of parliament.

The bill seeks to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and proposes building a national Domain Name System to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

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The legislation, which some Russian media have likened to an online “iron curtain,” passed its first of three readings in the 450-seat lower chamber of parliament. Pixabay

The legislation was drafted in response to what its authors describe as an aggressive new U.S. national cybersecurity strategy passed last year.

The Agora human rights group said earlier this month that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that “seriously threaten Internet freedom.”

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has said the bill poses more of a risk to the functioning of the Russian internet segment than the alleged threats from foreign countries that the bill seeks to counter.

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The Agora human rights group said earlier this month that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that “seriously threaten Internet freedom.” Pixabay

The bill also proposes installing network equipment that would be able to identify the source of web traffic and also block banned content.

The legislation, which can still be amended, but which is expected to pass, is part of a drive by officials to increase Russian “sovereignty” over its internet segment.

Also Read: Now Russian Telecom Watchdog To Direct Facebook, Twitter to Localise Users’ Database

Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in the last five years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.

The bill faces two more votes in the lower chamber, before it is voted on in the upper house of parliament and then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.(VOA)