Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said any move to dilute internet freedom would cause economic loss to the booming IT industry and it might affect the poor as several services to them were delivered through the internet.
"It must be noted that this is not an issue of just elite as it is being made out to be. It will affect even the poor because so many services are delivered over the internet today," Patnaik said in a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman Rahul Khullar.
"The government is trying to extend its services to the people through this medium because it will be effective and inexpensive. Present usage of the net seems to encompass everyone, rich or poor, particularly the younger people," he said.
Stating that he did not see any justification in limiting the ability of new start-up companies to reach the internet user, Patnaik said "Let us remember that the internet is not the market place but the market is made inside the internet."
"While the underprivileged deserve much more than what is available, nobody should decide what exactly are their requirements.
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You cannot force a person to use a certain mobile application because the telecom company believes that it should be doing so," Patnaik said.
"We, therefore, would be wary of any future where equal and non-discriminatory access to growth engine of the internet would be altered, and which is why I strongly believe in the principle of net neutrality," the chief minister said.
Patnaik said TRAI should make efforts to ensure that access to the internet for an Indian citizen anywhere in the country means un-throttled and equal access to the full spectrum of the open World Wide Web in practice.
"This is especially important since the Internet is key to the unparallelled ability to exercise the right to access knowledge and free expression, which are empowering our younger generations, to drive India to the forefront of the 21st Century," he said in the letter.
Stating that the youth of this country was paying a very high cost for an inefficient net connection, Patnaik said he did not see any justification in limiting the ability of new start-up companies to reach the net user.
"Nor do I feel that there should be compulsions on the users by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to use particular Apps for reasons best known to them. Let us remember that the internet is not the market-place but the market is made inside the internet," he said.
"But if you dictate what the poor should get, you take away their rights to choose what they think is best for them. You cannot force a person to use a certain mobile application because the telecom company believes that it should be doing so.
"Digital India requires that we help ensure that the innovation and entrepreneurship made possible by a dynamic Internet is further encouraged and not allowed to be influenced by discriminatory practices," he said.