Source: The Economic Times
NEW DELHI: India will add a significant part of the next 5 billion Internet users, with maths suggesting that it is the country to look out for, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said today.
"This place is going to be rocking," said Schmidt, who is in the national capital for the Google's Big Tent Forum.
"In the short term it is China, but math favours India. And I'm a mathematician," Schmidt said when asked by Guardian's Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger on his choice on India and China.
Speaking at the question and answer session with Rusbridger, Schmidt expressed great hope for the growth of Internet and broadband users in the country.
He said: "(There are) roughly 600 million mobile phone users in India, there are about 130 million Internet users, (but) there are only about 20 million broadband users. So by any definition India is under-penetrated. And in our book... we talk a lot about the importance of the next 5 billion.
"There are only 2 billion people on Internet in the world today. And many of those 5 billion would be coming from India. So imagine a situation 5 to 10 years from now. When there is a billion people on the Internet. Will they be significantly different from the first 100 million users. I'm sure there will be many more languages and they won't be so English focused."
However, Schmidt added that to achieve this growth India needs to build out the infrastructure and to lower the cost of devices. "I think the sum of all that is that this place is going to be rocking."
On regulation in India, especially clauses pertaining to liability on the intermediaries, Schmidt said it is important for service providers to check offensive data on the Net.
"India is a country with very very strong element to free speech and public discussion, which is admirable with a strong and vibrant democracy with a strong legal system. There are some clarifications that you needed to some of the aspects of law (section 66) and intermediate liability," he said.
"The reason is that you want entrepreneur to be willing to take risks. If they do take a risk, yout don't want them to be going to jail, unless they are very evil. So for example when content is put up, it is offensive...it will take time to discover its offensive and take it off," Schmidt added.
The Google chief went on to say that "it will be people who will actually make lies, they will be dramatic, they will promote things, they will do things, which are inappropriate and which are covered by your laws. It is important that the intermediaries the telcos, the ISPs, the start-ups have an ability to take that information down".
However on the dark side of the Internet he said: "There are also negatives for example the loss of privacy, which is a very real concern. And also there is a possible misuse of this information by governments."
Giving examples of data misuse by governments, Schmidt said if it can happen in about half of the US and may be another half in Europe,"it can certainly happen here as well".
He said: "I don't know enough Indian law with respect to civil liberties but I think it is very important that as this technology becomes pervasive in Indian society, the Indian Laws and so forth will respect the right to privacy."
Asked about the right path for India, which will leapfrog to mobile when it comes to Internet, Schmidt said there is no huge debate in the industry about the right path.
"Let me tell you this simple formula, take fibre optic cables and run it everywhere in the ground that you can possibly imagine... Fibre solves any connectivity problem and you don't have enough of it," he added.
The issue is that the telecom industry here is under- capitalised and has a lot of debt, and if they try to do something on that front then they need lot of help to do it, Schmidt said.