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Free Basics
Free Basics

Facebook’s Free Basics is a ‘Digital Jail’?

As India is debating net neutrality, a student of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Mahtab Arif argues why Facebook’s Free Basics is just like a ‘Digital Jail’ for underprivileged society.

ree-Basics is most controversial non-profit initiative by Facebook, It’s aim is to bring internet connectivity to poor people. Under Free Basics, Facebook is offering free access of selected content, sites to the people. What make it controversial is that Netizens in India see that Free Basic violets Net Neutrality.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), regulator of the telecommunications business in India issues a consultation paper on differential pricing on Data Issues and asks comment till 7 Jan.Facebook initiate an aggressive and emotional campaign and spent crores of rupees on advertisement. Bus Stops, YouTube Ads, Newspapers, Facebook Notifications all are full from request to support Free Basics.Facebook left no stone unturned to make it possible.

But the Question is that, is Free Basics violate Net Neutrality? YES, Free Basics is completely against the spirit of open internet. Simply Net Neutrality means that Internet Service Providers should treat all data on internet just like content,site,platform,applications,type of attached equipments equally and ISPs have no right to charge differentially to different contents, intentionally slowing the particular sites, determine which site users should show or which not.

TimBerners-Lee the man who invented the world wide web advised users to say no to Zero- rating programs such as Free Basics. He added that anything offered in the name of the Internet which is not the “Full Internet” is not really free and public.

In the name of providing free internet access to underprivileged people Facebook trying to keep them in Digital Jail. When the poor people pay and access full internet and see a lot of sites, informative and valuable contents, countless Apps, various platforms they definitely abuses Free Basics and feel like cheated because they can’t pay.

It also crushes the dream of a lot of start ups. A Neutral Net make possible for countless start ups to dream and act big. During starting period of Facebook If Net was not open how can it make a mark. Founders of Zomato, Paytm, GOQii, TrulyMadly and five others have jointly sent a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman, RS Sharma, endorsing their support for net neutrality, and calling for TRAI to issue clear regulations that prevent telecom or content providers “from acting as gate-keepers offering restricted Internet services instead of the open internet.

Free Basics is nothing to do with underprivileged people but a clever step by Facebook and reliance communication. The Indian telecom companies realise that users were replacing traditional texting with WhatsApp or Viber and traditional calling with Apps like Skype and these Over-The-Top services ride on telecom network free of cost.They now want the right to charge these services. But actually users pay for this as data consumed.

The concerned of the telecom companies and underprivileged people both are genuine and should address in more comprehensive manner but not on the cost of Net Neutrality. So say No to Free Basics.

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