Derek O’Brien not in net neutrality panel, questions membership criteria

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 31, 2015 14:41 IST
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O"Brien speaks in Rajya Sabha during winter session of Parliament in New (PTI)

Trinamool Congress lawmaker Derek O’Brien, whose name has not figured in the parliamentary sub-committee to examine net neutrality, has written to the chairperson of the panel questioning the criteria used to pick members and urging him to reconsider its membership.

According to NDTV, O’Brien wrote two letters to Anurag Thakur, the chairperson of the parliamentary panel on information and technology, saying he has “actively led the discussion of net neutrality in the House” and made a calling attention motion on net neutrality in Rajya Sabha in May.

“I urge you to reconsider the membership of this sub-committee in light of my keen interest and consistent participation in committee meetings on this topic. It would also be helpful if you could inform me of the criteria used to make membership decisions for sub-committees,” he wrote in his first letter on December 7.

O’Brien also said that he was assured by the minister that government will protect net neutrality.

The TMC’s Rajya Sabha member wrote a second letter dated December 23 asking Thakur again to consider his name for the panel and thanked him for his “verbal assurance when we met that I would be added to this sub-committee. I await written confirmation of the same.”

“We are considering it,” Thakur told NDTV and denied that the exclusion was by design or was because of their differences on various issues.

Thakur told the news channel that O’Brien was a member of the larger IT panel, which would be the one submitting the report on the issue, not the sub-committee.

The controversy over the issue has been raging since May when the panel had to abandon its meeting after 50 minutes of heated exchange as O’Brien and Congress’ KVP Ramachandra Rao insisted that consumer forums and over-the-top service providers should be invited first.

The opposition had then accused the government of trying to gift internet space to corporate groups.

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