Facebook’s Free Basics banned by TRAI

Mark Zuckerberg talks about free basics

Mark Zuckerberg talks about free basics

Facebook Free Basics has been banned in India by Telecom Authority of India (TRAI) over concerns that it could violate the principles of net neutrality.

What is Facebook Free Basic?

Free Basic (Internet.org) is an open platform that allow Indian developers to make their services and website available free of cost to those who cannot afford Internet. This is a limited free access to website and apps.

Problem with Free Basics

It looks like the brilliant initiatives by Facebook, but there is hidden trick. Facebook in association with ISPs will provide free service to privileged and selective access to apps of developer, most likely to be his own partners. This is why people are against Free Basic. People want equal and free Internet for everyone. This controversy is termed as net neutrality.

What’s net neutrality?

Net neutrality means access to free and fair Internet. It means that anyone from anywhere from the world should be able to access Internet, service without any partiality.

What was Save Free Basics petition?

This was an initiatives by facebook, by which users could send an email to TRAI in favour of Free Basics and saying “We support it”. You can access this petition here https://www.facebook.com/savefreebasics

TRAI Banned Facebook’s Free Basics in India

After a long debate between Free Basics and Net Neutrality, TRAI decided to ban this initiative by Facebook. It was banned temporarily in December 2015, till another initiative Airtel Zero created the debate. Facebook has spent around $45 million on the advertisement for free basic and convince the people.

Mark Zuckerberg talks about free basics
Image/ Jean-Frédéric (talk)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to defend the program in his blog post, expressing surprise that India is debating about Free Basic. He said “Instead of wanting to give people access to some basic internet services for free, critics of the program continue to spread false claims — even if that means leaving behind a billion people,” he wrote, adding: “Who could possibly be against this?”

And in the end, TRAI explained this banned like “Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations” which states providers cannot “offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content being accessed by a consumer” — that is to say, they can’t offer content for free. In a press release, the TRAI notes that its decision was “guided by the principles of net neutrality,” and that its end goal is “to ensure that consumers get unhindered and non-discriminatory access to the internet.” Whether or not it achieved this goal is sure to be debated in India and around the world.