Facebook has ultimately shut down its controversial Free Basics project in India, days after the Indian regulator TRAI banned it since it violated the fundamental principles of net neutrality. In an emailed statement, an official spokesperson of Facebook clarified that Free Basics is no longer available to people in India.
In a recent order, TRAI restrained mobile service providers from charging different rates for Internet access based on content stating that it amounts to discrimination for next two years.
But what after two years? The evil mindset of companies like Facebook to control the internet will rise again! The supporters of Net Neutrality should start planning now for what’s waiting for them in the future.
While confirming the shutdown of Free Basics, Reliance, a mobile service provider who initially started to offer the service has disclosed through a press statement that they have started to reconfigure access to Free Basics in such a way that it is offered as a paid platform instead of free as per the current mobile plan of customers.
While announcing the order, Ram Sewak Sharma who heads the TRAI has disclosed that no service provider should charge differential pricing on the basis of application, platforms, and websites. Furthermore, the regulator also banned ISPs from entering into any agreement with companies that offer services based on differential pricing.
Reacting to the recent verdict of the regulator, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that his company will not shy away from the goal of connecting India, particularly rural areas where there is a lack of Internet connectivity.
In a statement, Zuckerberg said more than one billion people still don’t have access to the Internet in India and the Free Basics platform was a step in right direction.
He also disclosed that the decision of the regulator defeats the Facebook’s objective of providing a free-of-cost platform to connect millions of people who are not on the internet.
Evoking sharp criticism from net neutrality advocates and tech enthusiasts, Facebook’s Free Basics only allows access to selected websites and hence it violates the basic principle of making available the entire Internet to everyone without any discrimination.
Even though Free Basics is not available in India, the project will continue to operate in around 30 countries across the world.