Dump Free Basics, Support Net Neutrality


Last year, when TRAI published some rubbish papers on differential pricing and all. We Indians opposed it by sending huge number of responses and ran an amazing #savetheinternet campaign. Resulting Flipkart to sign off the internet.org and Airtel to trash ‘Airtel Zero’.

But what happened this year?

Facebook picked same idea to let its users email to TRAI in support of ‘Free Basics’. Many people, actually huge number of dumb (sorry if you are one) people sent the email happily without even reading and thinking what it is. So clever Facebook, well played!

TRAI received 18 lakhs emails for Free Basics and only 5 Lakhs for Net Neutrality. Seriously, what the heck, what’s wrong with you guys. So, people just stop sending those bullshit emails to TRAI in support of Free Basics via Facebook; instead support Net Neutrality, its good for you.

I even saw some users getting really confused in between Free Basics and Net Neutrality, they sent email for free basics without reading/understanding what it is and at the same time they shared posts/videos for net neutrality, that’s ridiculous and exactly what FB wants. May be its not user’s mistake, its Facebook who mislead them and provided false information. Called it ‘Digital Equality’, beautifully wrapped and so decorated, isn’t it ? Digital Equality my foot. (angry)

I think, Free Basics is like free drugs. Now they are distributing it to you freely so you get addicted and become permanent “addict”, though it may not be necessary for you (those who are not on internet) at this point. It absolutely violates principles of net neutrality and in turn will burn your pockets and ruin the growing Indian internet and start-up culture.

What would facebook get?

  • It will make Facebook a giant hunk putting sole/major control in its hands, which could impact the entire social structure.
  • Another thing is, the companies who fail to comply with technical guidelines (and participation guidelines) of Facebook, might get hit, as their rivals would get a more wider audience. Which is not a fair competition.
  • As noted by Jitesh Goswami mentioned here, Free Basics app would get access to all your personal information including SMS, phone calls, gallery, history etc., more data.
  • Facebook will know whatever activity you will perform inside Free Basics, again more browsing data.
  • Technical guidelines are not easy to suffice. As you can see here, JS, images, videos are not allowed.
  • Though Facebook says that privacy is preserved, there is a concern as it can officially intercept all the traffic in between user and app/service provider which will be relayed through their servers. Resulting, more analytical data available to Facebook and decreased privacy/trust for your service and your customers.
  • Key point is, eventually people will go for ‘paid’ internet which will benefit the specific cellular service providers (Currently Reliance). And Facebook will get another millions of users (though its targeting for next billion users in India since Facebook blocked in China 😉 ) to its various services/products and importantly will be next targets of monetization.

Why Facebook rebranded the old internet.org to Free Basics?

May be because when internet.org came to India, it was just considered as some random organization/initiative which did not take off. So they thought what Indians and probably all other people like? Answer is ‘Free’. And that would have been eureka moment for them. So, they slashed internet.org and renamed it to Free Basics, just the same old wine in new bottle. Those 18 lakhs people proved ‘Free’ thing works in real. That’s insane. When would people grow up and think of the longer run?

As per Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Indian internet user base grew up by 49% in 2015 than that of in 2014. India was on 3rd position in 2014 and it replaced USA to be on 2nd in 2015, for user base figures. In 2015 alone, Indian cellular companies put approximately 75 million people online without any ‘Free Basics’ just through smart phone revolution. And that’s not just in urban or metro areas but in rural areas as well. This number is supposed to get double or triple by 2017.

So, why Facebook is going aggressive to make that happen?

I know, its a public company and they have to satisfy their shareholders and investors. But being a leading entity in this world they have the social responsibility and precisely that’s what their policy is (was?). How can they force people to get online and control what sites/services they should use? Who are they?

So, dear Facebook just stop those full page annoying advertisements and big banners and people please think over this. Period.

You should read this as well, from creator of world wide web.

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