Citizens' Issues
Nasscom for net neutrality, level-playing field
Advocating net neutrality and level-playing field for start-ups, the Indian IT industry's representative body Nasscom on Wednesday proposed a synergistic model for internet platforms, applications and telecom service providers.
 
"Net neutrality creates an open and level-playing field to facilitate innovation, adoption and inclusion," Nasscom president R. Chandrashekhar said, sharing its response to the TRAI consultative paper on regulatory framework for over-the-top (OTT) services.
 
Noting that internet, mobile telephony, social media, big data, analytics, cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) have created a perfect confluence for economic development, the former telecom secretary said the start-up and innovation eco-system and the government's Digital India initiative would transform social and economic spheres, including education, healthcare and financial inclusion.
 
"As the essential building blocks of the digital revolution are not contradictory and can be synergised, we have advocated a forward looking definition of net neutrality to achieve the objectives," Chandrashekhar said.
 
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a paper in March inviting comments from users and firms on how OTT services should be regulated in the country and sought suggestions from stakeholders by April 24 and counter-arguments by May 8.
 
In net neutrality, governments and internet service providers treat data on the internet equally and do not charge users, content, platform, site, application or mode of communication differentially for the benefit of end-customers.
 
"Any stifling regulation restricting access to internet or internet platforms and services will not only hamper the country's socio-economic development, but also suppress growth and success of innovation driven start-ups and small and medium enterprises," National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) internet council chair Sanjeev Bhikchandani said on the occasion.
 
The emergence of the internet, resultant data revolution and the advent of a host of application service providers has disrupted equilibria and business models in several sectors, including telecom and IT.
 
"It is essential to synergise adoption of internet platforms and innovation driven models with growth of telecom infrastructure. This will lead to a cycle of growth, where sustained rise in revenues from data consumption is spurred and driven by the internet platforms and OTT services," Chandrashekhar added.
 
As mobile penetration approaches saturation level, voice traffic will plateau and rising data traffic will be the driver of demand for more telecom infrastructure.
 
"Issues in the TRAI paper arise from the revenue streams of TSPs, which are heavily voice dependent while demand for infrastructure is driven by rising data usage. A revenue stream calibrated to the demand/consumption of data is the way forward to ensure the demand driver and revenue generator are aligned," Nasscom said in its response to the TRAI paper.
 
The industry body also stressed on the need to understand the guiding principles of net neutrality, which is about unfettered user right of making an informed choice in deciding access to legal content/services on the internet.
 
"We believe that users' right to choose will be compromised when regulations fail to proscribe price and non-price based discrimination by TSPs. The downstream impact is needless data demand curtailment," Nasscom noted.
 
The industry body also suggested that universal principles of net neutrality, access for all and leveraging internet for development growth should be upheld.
 
"There should be no roadblocks to rapid adoption of ICT enabled models and innovation that are expected to drive the digital revolution in the country."
 
No rights or discretion to TSPs to censor or block legal content; to throttle lawful internet traffic; determine how users use internet in the form of "normal net management or commercial practices".
 
Telecom service providers should not indulge in double dipping (charging) for data from both consumer and application/platform provider.
 
"It is important to dispel the myth that internet platforms and OTT services are not regulated. The Information Technology Act and its rules pertaining to intermediaries and interception are applicable to them, as also the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Penal Code," Chandrashekhar added.

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The Whistleblower’s Tale: How an Accountant Took on Halliburton
In 2005, Tony Menendez blew the whistle on Halliburton’s accounting practices. The fight cost him nine years of his life 
 
This story was co-produced with Marketplace.
 
The email that ruined Tony Menendez’s life arrived on a warm and sunny February afternoon in 2006. Menendez is, by nature, precise and logical, but his first instinct was somewhat irrational. He got up to close the door to his office, as if that might somehow keep the message from speeding across cyberspace. Then he sat down at his desk to puzzle out what had just happened.
 
The email was sent by Mark McCollum, Halliburton’s chief accounting officer, and a top-ranking executive at Halliburton, where Menendez worked. It was addressed to much of the accounting department. “The SEC has opened an inquiry into the allegations of Mr. Menendez,” it read. Everyone was to retain their documents until further notice. 
 
Panic gripped Menendez. How could McCollum have learned he had been talking to the SEC? The substance of the email was true. After months of raising concerns inside the company, Menendez had filed a complaint with regulators and Halliburton’s audit committee that accused the giant oil services company of violating accounting rules. But those complaints were supposed to be kept strictly confidential. Did the agency violate that trust? Did a board member? Somebody had talked.
 
Ten minutes passed, maybe fifteen. Menendez finally could move. He got up, opened his office door carefully and looked out. The floor normally bustled at that hour in the mid-afternoon. It had cleared out. He turned around quickly, grabbed his computer and rushed out of the heavily secured Halliburton complex north of Sugarland, Texas.
 
Menendez drove around for hours. He doesn’t remember much about where he went or for how long. At some point, he called his wife. 
 
“Ondy,” he cried out to her, frantic. “They outed me!”
 
As shocked as Menendez was, his wife had seen something like this coming. Tony was a perennial optimist, even naïve. He always thought the company would do the right thing and fix its accounting problem. More jaded, his wife was prepared for the worst. She’d even urged Tony to start secretly taping his bosses.
 
“Is anyone following you?” she asked. “Make sure.”
 
Menendez looked around, seeing only a blur of cars pass at the beginnings of evening rush hour. He didn’t think anyone was tailing him. Then again, how would he know? He needed a lawyer – right now. Only months into the best job he’d ever had, he was in the most trouble of his professional career.
 
Menendez quickly googled “whistleblower” and “lawyer” on his phone and came up with Philip Hilder, the attorney who had represented the Enron whistleblower, Sherron Watkins. He placed the call and got through. Hilder heard Menendez out and then told him to listen carefully. Hilder instructed Menendez not to tell anyone, not even his wife. Too late for that, and he wouldn’t have kept it from Ondy anyway. They were partners.
 
“Ok. Then don’t talk on the phone anymore. Don’t talk in your office. Don’t talk in your house,” Hilder continued. 
 
“How quickly can you come in to see me?”
---------------------------------------
I met Tony and Ondy Menendez this past winter, in a suburb less than an hour outside Detroit. Now 44, Menendez speaks earnestly and insistently, with the carefully chosen words one would expect from an accountant. His cheeks carry a tinge of pink and, at the slightest smile, his eyes are consumed by crow’s feet. He hid a bulky frame with a corduroy jacket over a black V-neck sweater.
 
They told me about their long and agonizing fight against a powerful corporation. It’s a story of what it takes to be a whistleblower in America – and what it takes out of you.
 
Many whistleblowers come undone after they launch their fights. They have trouble keeping their jobs, their marriages, their sobriety. Even friends who are sympathetic often see them as pains in the ass. They are forever marked by a scarlet “W.” And while whistleblowers naturally start off more skeptical than the average, the experience pushes some into often justifiable paranoia. If you want to know why whistleblowers can seem a little crazy, it’s because anybody who is not a little bit crazy would back away from the ordeal of confronting a corporate behemoth or grinding government bureaucracy.
 
There’s nothing crazy about Menendez, however, beyond an optimism that persists even when the facts don’t warrant it. Throughout the whole struggle, he just knew that somehow, sometime, the world would come around to seeing he was right about Halliburton.
 
 
Courtesy: ProPublica.org
 

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COMMENTS

Mahesh S Bhatt

2 years ago

Here mafia kills whisleblower.

Sucheta lost her job at TOI for Harshad Mehta scam.

Khemka is transfered again.

Air India's Director had his book banned now the court has looked into thanks to Prashant Bhushan.

PM has got 5 years for Coal scam next summon who will remember?

Oil prices raise to $ 5.6 has been quashed by court as Economic decision in arbirartion case of RIL.

Hope is there as we have Subrata Roy & Raju behind the bars.

Jayalitha is doging courts.Sukhram went behind the bars.

God Bless Raise the bar for Personal/Professional Values Systems corruption shall die.

Mahesh

Rahul Gandhi, Prasad spar over net neutrality
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused the government of floating a “trial balloon” on net neutrality even as Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said his regime was in favour of free and fair access to the World Wide Web.
 
In his second intervention in the Lok Sabha since his return from a 56-day sabbatical, Gandhi raised the issue of net neutrality and said: "Every youth should have a right to the net. But the government is trying to hand over the internet to some corporates."
 
He said: "I would request the government to please change the law or make a new law to ensure net neutrality."
 
The 44-year-old Congress leader continued with his support for net neutrality outside the house as well. 
 
"If the government wanted to protect net neutrality, why did it begin a consultation. It is a trial balloon to see if the reaction is strong. We are giving a strong reaction so that the process is closed."
 
Gandhi also found support in the new general secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Sitaram Yechury, a Rajya Sabha member.
 
"I think ours is the only party which has passed a motion on this in its national congress," Yechury said.
 
Prasad, who also spoke both inside and outside the house, said: "This government appreciates the net activism of the youth. Our prime minister (Narendra Modi) has said we have to make the net available without discrimination."
 
The minister said there was, indeed, the need for mobile governance, and the government wanted the net to reach everybody. 
 
"Neither is our government under pressure of any corporate nor will it ever be."
 
Referring to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) initiating a debate on the matter, the minister said the watchdog has the mandate to debate, but it is the government that has the power to take a decision.
 
"We want to ensure internet for everybody. We have asked for a report within two weeks."
 
Network neutrality, or open inter-working, means that in accessing the World Wide Web, one is in full control over how to go online, where to go and what to do as long as these are lawful. It advocates that firms that provide internet services should treat all lawful internet content in a neutral manner. 
 
In March, telecom regulator TRAI released a paper inviting comments from users and companies on how over-the-top services should be regulated in the country. It has asked stakeholders to send suggestions by April 24 and counter-arguments need to be submitted by May 8.
 
A committee on net neutrality was also set up by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which will submit its report by the second week of May to help the government make a comprehensive decision on the contentious issue.

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COMMENTS

MOHAN

2 years ago

"Politics is everywhere, it's in your shirt, it's in your pants" - RaGa

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