Free Basics and Why India blocked it

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This is what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in his response to the news that India has ruled against his highly ambitious Internet.org’s Free Basics.

“Everyone in the world should have access to the internet. That’s why we launched Internet.org with so many different initiatives — including extending networks through solar-powered planes, satellites and lasers, providing free data access through Free Basics, reducing data use through apps, and empowering local entrepreneurs through Express Wi-Fi. Today India’s telecom regulator decided to restrict programs that provide free access to data. This restricts one of Internet.org‘s initiatives, Free Basics, as well as programs by other organizations that provide free access to data.

While we’re disappointed with today’s decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world. Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the internet. Our work with Internet.org around the world has already improved many people’s lives. More than 19 million people in 38 countries have been connected through our different programs.

Connecting India is an important goal we won’t give up on, because more than a billion people in India don’t have access to the internet. We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that’s why we’re so committed to connecting them. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India.”

The Internet is flooded with reports and comments, in favor of and against TRAI’s ruling. Sure those who sympathize with Mark Zuckerberg have reasons too, but the question is, do they outweigh the reasons against his project? What do you say?

Here is a rundown of what’s going on:

Trai vs. Facebook’s Free Basics: 7 Things You Need to Know | NDTV Gadgets360.com

Q: What is Free Basics? A: Free Basics is, first and foremost, an app. People in developing countries rely on Free Basics to access certain digital services, such as health, schooling and financial information, as well as job leads. For these folks, Free Basics is great because it does exactly what it sounds like: grants people crucial, life-enhancing information at virtually zero cost to them. All they need is a cellphone with a data plan. And Free Basics doesn’t even count against your data cap, so you can stretch your monthly data even further.

Q: If it’s so great, then why does India want to ban it? A: While Free Basics helps connect low-income people to the Web, some people argue that it comes with a huge trade-off for society. This trade-off has to do with how Free Basics works. Free Basics is “free” because Facebook has struck business deals with the telecom networks over which the app’s data travels. That’s how the telecom companies can exempt Free Basics from their data caps. (Read mroe Trai vs. Facebook’s Free Basics: 7 Things You Need to Know | NDTV Gadgets360.com)

Facebook’s ‘Free’ Internet Service Blocked In India – Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/facebook-free-basics-india_us_56b8ee1be4b01d80b24752f7India introduced rules on Monday to prevent Internet service providers from having different pricing policies for accessing different parts of the Web, in a setback to Facebook Inc’s plan to roll out a pared-back free Internet service to the masses … Facebook’s ‘Free’ Internet Service Blocked In India – Huffington Post

Overnight Tech: Facebook not giving up on Internet plans – The Hill

LEDE: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said the company’s focus on India is not over after the government there effectively blocked Free Basics, Facebook’s suite of free web services meant to connect poor users to the internet. “While we’re … Overnight Tech: Facebook not giving up on Internet plans – The Hill

Indian regulator stands up for net neutrality, bans Facebook’s walled garden – Boing Boing

http://boingboing.net/2016/02/08/indian-regulator-stands-up-for.htmlAs the protests spread, India’s independent telcoms regulator announced a consultation on net neutrality and mobile carriers, which Facebook responded to with a massive charm offensive full of misinformation and FUD, a rebranding effort (they changed … Indian regulator stands up for net neutrality, bans Facebook’s walled garden – Boing Boing

Facebook Loses a Battle in India Over Its Free Basics Program – New York Times

Even with that noble aim, Facebook miscalculated in introducing the program in India. While Facebook expected to be welcomed with open arms, its message to the country focused on itself rather than the broad coalition of telecommunications firms …WIREDUSA TODAYThe Guardian – Facebook Loses a Battle in India Over Its Free Basics Program – New York Times