Facebook's 'Free Basics' campaign draws scorn
- Facebook launched its "Free Basics" service in India, saying that it "provides free access to essential internet services like communication, education, healthcare, employment, farming and more" to people "who can't afford to pay for data".
- However, despite its seemingly benevolent purpose, Free Basics is just another name for the Internet.org service, and Facebook has received scathing criticism from net neutrality activists for its craftiness.
WWW inventor becomes Free Basics' first critic
Tim Berners-Lee, the English computer scientist who invented the World Wide Web, attacked Facebook's Internet.org/Free Basics initiative in an interview with The Guardian, saying, "When it comes to compromising on net neutrality, I tend to say just say no."
Facebook rolls out 'Save Free Basics' campaign
- To counter the growing criticism, Facebook rolled out a campaign 'Save Free Basics'.
- Facebook's detractors have asserted that Free Basics, which applies zero-rating, a telecom business terminology for data that is promoted for an end user by a third-party, divides the internet into free and paid tiers.
- It therefore infringes on the postulate of net-neutrality, which states that all data should be handled equally.
TRAI puts Free Basics on hold
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) directed the interim stoppage of Facebook's Free Basics Internet plan.
- The agency summoned Facebook associate Reliance Communications to "put Free Basics on hold" while it ascertains whether Free Basics violates net neutrality or not.
- The service had been launched in 6 Indian states, allowing residents admittance to more than 3 dozen Web services.
World Bank: Newest opposer of Free Basics
- Free Basics, the free but limiting internet service that has locked horns with Indian authorities, has found another opponent - the World Bank.
- Its World Development Report called Free Basics, which is a component of Facebook's internet.org enterprise, the "antithesis of net neutrality and a distortion of markets".
- It also said any violation against net neutrality was a violation of human rights.
Wikimedia Foundation distances itself from Free Basics
- A US-based non-profit organisation- The Wikimedia Foundation which maintains and owns Wikipedia and other autonomous sites has also inched itself away from Facebook's Free Basics programme.
- The Foundation in a blog post clarified that though Wikipedia and other sites were incorporated under the Free Basics plan, the Foundation had not struck any deal with Facebook regarding the same.