Free Internet service for over 3 million Egyptians shut down

The Internet.org project was recently renamed as Free Basics and offers free access to a set of websites and services with the objective of introducing Internet.

Supporting Facebook's Free Basics service, NGO Telecom Watchdog on Wednesday said Trai should not stop any service which is offered free to consumers.

It was not immediately clear why the program had been halted. "This is the same process we follow for every ad and we give the advertiser an opportunity to present their point of view". It's started a "Save Free Basics In India" campaign, asking Indian users to support "digital equality" by filling out a form that shoots an e-mail to regulators.

In a Monday op-ed penned for The Times of India, the Facebook founder blasted detractors of the gratis Web program aimed at connecting the next 5 billion people.

"If we accept that everyone deserves access to the Internet, then we must surely support free basic Internet services", the chief executive wrote, comparing the Internet to a library, and education. Zuckerberg has ties with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modiin and has visited India twice. As many as 700 million more people could come online in the coming years. In essence, what is being asked for by anti-Free Basics voices is that the government use clauses in the telecom license agreement that permit arbitrary state action, and that it use these clauses in order to restrict consumer choice. Critics bash Free Basics saying that it runs contrary to the principles of net neutrality and that data providers should not favor some online service over others by offering cheaper or fast access. Critics of free basic internet services should remember that everything we're doing is about serving people like Ganesh.

The collective view from the opposing groups says that with concepts like Free Basics and Airtel Zero will create monopoly on the internet, and restrict financially small and budding content providers from reaching to the users, as content that will not be a part of the telecom operator's free services will be charged extra, hence, creating an environment of differential pricing. The service sounds great on its surface - an estimated 1 billion Indians don't have internet access - but a series of issues have many Indians pushing back.

"Instead of recognizing the fact that Free Basics is opening up the whole internet, they continue to claim - falsely - that this will make the internet more like a walled garden".

 

"Basics, and the flexibility and freedom with which such an effort can evolve would be restricted or limited by Facebook's guidelines".

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