The Department of Telecommunications has refused to disclose inputs it received on Huawei and China’s New Internet Protocol (New IP) proposal. The DoT had started the consultation — that MediaNama first reported on — in an effort to formulate India’s response to China’s proposal to create a new internet protocol that will replace existing technology. In response to an RTI query filed by MediaNama, the DoT told us that of all the government and non-government stakeholders it reached out to for comment, only ten had responded as of October 15 (the consultation’s deadline was set as September 14 when it was issued).
The department refused to provide a copy of those ten submissions, as “the information can not be provided as the same is third party information and not permitted under section 8(1)(d) of RTI act [sic] 2005”. Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act exempts “information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party”.
This is an odd exemption to use, as the consultation is generic in nature and responses are mostly from industry associations, who aren’t likely to offer “commercially sensitive” material in response, or trade secrets for that matter. Indeed, the filing of the Broadband India Forum, which responds fairly comprehensively to the DoT consultation, does not contain any material that appears to fall under the categories exempted by the section of the RTI Act the DoT cited.
MediaNama intends to appeal this decision, as the inputs that lead to the government forming its position on New IP, which if approved could fundamentally change the architecture of the internet as we know it, is essential for the public to have access to.
Meanwhile, the DoT said that the following stakeholders provided inputs on its white paper on New IP:
- ITU-APT Foundation of India
- ITI Council
- Broadband India Forum
If you can provide a copy of one of the responses listed above, please send them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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