Monday, November 21, 2016

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Equal Rating Innovation Challenge helps to catalyze innovation needed to bring more people of India online: Mozilla

New Delhi, November 21, 2016Bringing all of the Internet to all people, especially the poor, is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and future innovations to connect the unconnected must adhere to the tenets of Equal Rating, said Jochai Ben-Avie, Senior Global Policy Manager at Mozilla at a panel discussion here last week.

“While TRAI has recognized that some business models are too harmful to competition and users to be allowed in the market, the very real challenge of bringing all of the Internet to all people remains. To advance this goal, Mozilla’s ‘Equal Rating Innovation Challenge’ is designed to catalyze new thinking and innovation in providing affordable access and cultivating digital literacy,” Ben-Avie said.

The expert panel discussion was organized by Mozilla in partnership with SFLC.in and followed the organization’s recent Equal Rating Innovation Challenge launch announcement.

"The debate around Internet openness and access has been playing out in India like nowhere else, and Equal Rating models can help to bring the Internet to all in line with TRAI’s regulation. Building on Mozilla’s strong commitment to net neutrality, the central tenet of Equal Rating models is that they treat all content equally, and that users are able to choose the content they want to see based on the quality of that content and not the commercial relationships of a given provider,” Ben-Avie added. 

Calling Mozilla’s challenge a real “game changer” which can help bring the next 300 million Indians online, Mahesh Murthy, Founder of Pinstorm, co-Founder at Seedfund and one of the panelists said, “I was part of the team that helped fight Free Basics – because it simply gave too much power to one company. But I was always cognizant of the need for the less privileged to get free Internet access. We want companies to come up with solutions that offer free net access, without the restrictions – and with the freedom for a user to visit any site she chooses. I’m glad to see that Equal Rating offers exactly that: plan to offer a certain amount of free and unfettered Internet access to all users, without restrictions or bias.”

Mishi Choudhary, Executive Director at SFLC.in and a panelist said, “Connecting the unconnected while propagating the values of an open Internet is what we all must work for. Mozilla’s challenge is the correct way to solve the problem of access. I hope for more such initiatives to be rolled out and we can address the challenge innovatively to educate every being on earth through an open Internet.”

“India has shown the world that it can protect the openness of Internet in the TRAI ruling earlier this year,” Smriti Parsheera, Consultant at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and a panelist said. “The global community has taken note of India as a country where even before any reference framework on net neutrality existed, the regulator took a view on ‘zero rating practices’ and ‘discriminatory pricing practices’, leading to a roll back of Free Basics,” Parsheera added.

The Equal Rating Innovation Challenge will support promising solutions through expert mentorship and funding of US$250,000 in prize monies split into three categories - Best Overall (based on scalability), Best Overall Runner-up and Most Novel Solution (based on experiment with a potential high reward). Submissions are now open through January 6, more information is available at www.equalrating.com
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About Mozilla: 
Mozilla is a pioneer and advocate for the Open Web for more than 15 years. We create and promote open standards that enable innovation and advance the Web as a platform for all. Today, hundreds of millions of people worldwide use Mozilla Firefox to experience the Web on computers, tablets and mobile devices. For more information, visitwww.mozilla.org.

About SFLC.In:
SFLC.IN is a donor supported legal services organisation that brings together lawyers, policy analysts, technologists, and students to protect freedom in the digital world. SFLC.INpromotes innovation and open access to knowledge by helping developers make great Free and Open Source Software, protect privacy and civil liberties for citizens in the digital world by educating and providing free legal advice and help policy makers make informed and just decisions with the use and adoption of technology. SFLC.IN is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, operating all over India.

Contact person:
Vidhu Goyal
CNC India Pvt. Ltd. (on behalf of Mozilla)

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