Flipkart walks away from Airtel deal after net neutrality backlash

India’s largest online retailer Flipkart has pulled out of a deal with Airtel after a social media backlash over net neutrality.

Flipkart has come under fire for a deal with the phone network that would have let customers browse the e-commerce site for free, with Flipkart picking up their internet data costs.

Critics said this went against net neutrality, the BBC reported, arguing that service providers should treat all traffic equally, meaning that all users can access all websites at the same speed and cost.

Flipkart is “walking away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel for their platform Airtel Zero” after users took to social media to say they were deleting the e-commerce app in protest.

Airtel Zero allows customers to access mobile applications for free, with the app’s owner paying the internet data charges.

Net neutrality is a hot topic in India. Some 100,000 people have emailed the country’s telecom regulator to demand that the government protect net neutrality, leading to the creation of an independent panel to review the issue.

The panel’s repost “on the whole gamut of net neutrality objective, its benefits, advantages and limitations including the regulatory and technical issues”  will be presented in mid-May, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

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