Open Internet

TRAI has said that it will not display the email IDs of 10 lakh people who wrote to TRAI about their views on TRAI’s net neutrality consultation paper. After it received flak for publishing all the email IDs last week, TRAI said that if anyone stated specifically against its move, it was willing to remove the email IDs of all these people.

However, the timing of the new notification (pdf) from the telecom regulator is just one day before its deadline for counter comments. Yesterday it said, “all stakeholders are hereby informed that during submission of their counter comments, if anyone desires that his/her email id should not be displayed, it may be specifically stated so in the email.” The regulator asked respondents to include “do not display my ID” in the subject line of the email.

TRAI said that it published stakeholders’ comments it received on its website in line with past practice regarding such public consultations. However, the issue was also raised in a debate regarding Net Neutrality in the Rajya Sabha initiated by Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien. MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar also asked for a review of the regulator and the TRAI Act specifically the sections which deal with consumer interest and consumer protection.

Meanwhile, Union minister of communications and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad sought to allay fears on Net Neutrality and has constituted a committee with key players from telecom companies, internet service providers, civil society and consumer groups with a mandate to recommend overall policy on Net Neutrality and the Department of Telecommunications is expected to submit its report by the end of the month.

On March 27, TRAI had issued a consultation paper for forming a regulatory framework for Internet communication services such as WhatsApp and Viber. Stakeholders had to sumbit their comments by April 24. The last date for submitting counter arguments ends May 8. The regulator will then hold an open house on the issue, after which it will make its recommendations to the government.

Three days after it published the comments of stakeholders, hacker collective Anonymous claimed that it launched a denial of service attack which made the government site inaccessible. The website has since been revived.

*An earlier version of the story carried a different headline. It has been  edited for clarity