And looks like all the Net Neutrality debate which we folks have been having, has finally yielded some result. Flipkart, upon facing major backlash due to its alleged tie-up with Airtel’s upcoming service named Airtel Zero, has now pulled out of Airtel Zero.
Flipkart spokesperson said,
Flipkart will be walking away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel for their platform Airtel Zero. We will commit ourselves to the larger cause of Net Neutrality in India.
Earlier, Airtel announced its service named Airtel Zero and it was reported that Flipkart was the first company to be in talks to join its upcoming service. The service allows companies to pay for the data used by the users so that users can access their service for free of cost.
The service may seem beneficiary as of now but will effect other growing businesses. Many companies spoke against Airtel Zero but Flipkart’s co-founder, Sachin Bansal tweeted that zero-rated app doesn’t violate net neutrality and are good for consumers.
But, people were not convinced and the statement led to a wave of consumer backlash against Flipkart with users giving 1 star rating to its app in Play Store and App Store.
Services which are claiming to offer free internet access are limited to the apps which have a deal with the telecom company. This can affect the apps and start-ups which are starting from scratch who cannot afford to pay telecom companies data rates.
Now, Flipkart has changed its stance. It has issued an email statement confirming that it is not going to be a part of Airtel Zero anymore. Here is the email’s content:
We at Flipkart have always strongly believed in the concept of net neutrality, for 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 be walking away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel for their platform Airtel Zero.
We will be committing ourselves to the larger cause of Net Neutrality in India. We will be internally discussing over the next few days, the details of actions we will take to support the cause.
We will be working towards ensuring that the spirit of net neutrality is upheld and applied equally to all companies in India irrespective of the size or the service being offered and there is absolutely no discrimination whatsoever.
Activists and consumers have taken to social media to express their views and protest against Airtel Zero. Protesting against rules which are trying to redefine the Internet, a website www.savetheinternet.in was set up through which users can send email directly to TRAI, explaining how telecom carriers are snatching away free Internet from them. In the past three days, around 3 lakh emails have been sent to telecom regulator.