Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday released a statement lending his support to net neutrality and demanded that the government and internet service providers (ISPs) treat all data on the internet equally. “We recognise the danger of privileging a private platform over a public Internet introducing a new digital divide. In my opinion, Internet is a powerful poverty alleviation tool, offering unbounded opportunities limited only by imagination, whether it is a farmer looking for information on monsoon preparedness, artisans connecting with buyers in a market place or a college student from rural India enrolling for an online course,” said Gandhi in a statement.‎With the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) holding consultations on differential pricing, and being likely to release a report on the same in the coming week, the months-long debate surrounding data pricing is widely believed to be laid to rest. Initially seen as favouring differential pricing, the regulatory body surprised everyone by pulling up Facebook for its campaign for controversial programme, Free Basics in a strongly-worded letter. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A shuffle in the telecom ministry, with the ministry secretary Rakesh Garg being replaced by JS Deepak, has also been seen as a move to find an end to the months-long discussions. Gandhi, however, blamed the government of delaying the framing of a policy by holding repeated discussions, and said that the BJP government “looked the other way” when telecom companies introduced differential pricing. In April, last year, Airtel had launched the Airtel Zero programme leading to nationwide protests online. And recently, Facebook launched the Free Basics programme on Reliance connections. Gandhi, in his statement, asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that Digital India does not become an euphemism for an internet controlled by big corporations. “Digital India should mean Internet connectivity as a public utility, open ended and generative. With Digital India, people would get more access to the Internet – the whole internet – and not primarily a filter on the web,” he said.

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Rahul Gandhi lends support to net neutrality, calls internet ‘a powerful poverty alleviation tool’