Telecom Regulatory Authority of India bans Facebook’s Free Basics
As we all know that much of the opposition to Facebook's Internet/Free basics has been framed around the net neutrality debate. But, I think the problem is rooted in the idea of Data Darwinism, where data owners shape the narrative and make decisions that leave millions without a choice.
As per a new report, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has given Facebook's Free Basics (rebranded Internet. org) a big thumbs-down. The opposition from many quarters led to the decision by Indian regulator.
The agency wrote, "This can prove to be risky in the medium to long term as the knowledge and outlook of those users would be shaped only by the information made available through those select offerings". It has been reported that Facebook did a blunder by spending millions of dollars on advertising to promote its position and ran special banners in the news feeds of Indian users urging them to petition the government to allow Free Basics.
The TRAI decision has been considered as a great setback for co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company, which has been working hard to introduce its free-access services.
Facebook still calls its efforts Internet. org across most of the world and paints it as a not-for-profit effort. There are two points that does not seem appropriate. The first is that Internet. org isn't about the internet, so Facebook should stop calling it as such and call it what it is: Facebook Free (with strings attached). To call it Internet. org is actually the first sin of this whole debacle. Secondly, Facebook Free Basics isn't a charity. It is a way for Facebook to gather more attention and sell services and advertising to those who get Facebook's Free Basics.
It is hard to tell whether money or politics come first, but either way, they are intertwined.