Confused reading too many things on the internet about Free Basics offered by Facebook? Here is an explanation. ‘Internet.org’ an initiative taken by Facebook to provide certain web-based services for free of cost to the underprivileged citizens of India. Facebook tied up with Reliance Communications for this initiative and renamed the Internet.org as Free Basics.
While this being a good thing, there have been many controversies running in the background. According to the TRAI(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), Free Basics violates the principle of Net Neutrality, which states that “data providers should not favour some online services over others by offering cheaper or faster access”. So, TRAI has asked Reliance Communications to put its services on hold till it gets approval.
This being on one side, Free Basics says that its motive is to help connect the rural people in India. Most of the rural population will not be able to understand texts but, they can understand what is being shown in the video. But in the Free Basics app, one cannot access videos and VOIP(Voice Over IP). So the whole idea of Free Basics comes under question.
Critics say that if Facebook wants “digital equality” then they should be providing the whole of the internet for access with some limit rather than providing just 25 websites with no limit. But Mark Zuckerberg stated that “It is not sustainable to offer the whole internet for free”. However, he has promised that more network operators will be allowed to join in the future.
Facebook has also said that this app does not contain any advertisements and this is not at all related with ramping up their revenue. But it didn’t promise that there won’t be any ads in the future. Also, there is a claim by the YouTube sensation AIB that Facebook may mine the user data and use it for their profit. Another setback of this initiative is that people who can already afford the data services by paying money will also be able to make use of this Free Basics app.
There is a positive note and a negative note in the Free Basics initiative. The positive bringing more of the people to use the internet and the negative being that this does not provide a fair ground for all people to play in.
So, if you are in favour of net neutrality and would like to allow the Free Basics initiative to continue, or if you even want to voice against it, you can send a mail to TRAI using this address: “[email protected]” or can visit this website www.savetheinternet.in to know more.