A Change.org petition on preserving net neutrality in India is arguably the fastest growing Indian petitions on the global campaigning site ever in terms of sign ups.
As of now, the petition is getting around 3,000-4,000 supporters every ten minutes, and has completed its target of getting 25,000 signatures.
The initial target is likely to be crossed several times over, going by the rapid rate at which the petition has attracted signatures.
The petition calls upon India’s telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India not to tinker with the neutral nature of the Internet.
Change.org is a global petitioning website that is used by campaigners to draw attention to problems around the world, and force authorities to listen to them.
The Change.org petition, created by a person by the name of Sandeep Pillai based in Kollam in Kerala, has been addressed to two DoT officials, besides the minister and the TRAI.
“Until now, you and I could use the internet data we paid for, to do anything on the internet. If telephone companies get their way, they will dictate what, how and when to browse the internet. And this could happen very soon. This is really scary,” Pillai said.
In fact, net neutrality is a touchy subject among Internet users in India. The country has an internet penetration of just around 15%.
A prominent operator tried to charge higher rates for data consumed by certain applications — claiming that the applications were threatening its business model. This led to an immediate backlash on social media, leading to the cancellation of the plans.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman Rahul Khullar views the question of net neutrality as an open one, and has said it will consult with mobile operators and others on whether net neutrality needs to be maintained or not.
“I started this petition so that TRAI knows that you and I don’t want the internet to be controlled by these big corporates. I want TRAI to put people’s interest first. Sign my petition and ask TRAI to not allow differential pricing of services on the Internet and let the consumers choose how they want to use Internet,” said Pillai in his petition.