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Mark Zuckerberg’s disappointment with India’s ban on Free Basics, and the internet’s reaction

   

Mark Zuckerberg – image credit tjournal.ru

Two days ago India’s telecommunications regulator took a stand against net neutrality violations in its country, banning services that have discriminatory tariffs and charges. This effectively put an end to Facebook’s case for its zero-rated Free Basics service.

While net neutrality proponents celebrated the victory, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook and the man pushing for Free Basics took to Facebook (where else, really) to express his disappointment and to let people know that his team wouldn’t be giving up on India or its mission to offer a free internet.

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The post has attracted some interesting thoughts from people for and against Free Basics and it’s worth noting that these are essentially the same points that Zimbabweans on either side of the net neutrality aisle have been raising. All this is happening as Free Basics is set for a launch in this month.

It remains to be seen whether there will be some form of activism triggered locally to prompt our own regulator, POTRAZ, to act on net neutrality or if Free Basics, like other zero-rated services, will just be adopted silently.

In the meantime, you can read what Zuck has to say in defense of his service.

Everyone in the world should have access to the internet.

That’s why we launched Internet.org with so many different initiatives — including extending networks through solar-powered planes, satellites and lasers, providing free data access through Free Basics, reducing data use through apps, and empowering local entrepreneurs through Express Wi-Fi.

Today India’s telecom regulator decided to restrict programs that provide free access to data. This restricts one of Internet.org‘s initiatives, Free Basics, as well as programs by other organizations that provide free access to data.

While we’re disappointed with today’s decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world. Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the internet.

Our work with Internet.org around the world has already improved many people’s lives. More than 19 million people in 38 countries have been connected through our different programs.

Connecting India is an important goal we won’t give up on, because more than a billion people in India don’t have access to the internet. We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that’s why we’re so committed to connecting them.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India.


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