Will Free Basics Get Banned in India?

"graphic of India's Internet usage""

Very few people have access to Internet in India.

With the recent announcement that Internet regulators have made everyone is asking: will Free Basics get banned in India? Differentiated price schemes that Facebook plans to apply in India are said to infringe net neutrality rules.

The rules of Internet neutrality ask Internet providers to offer the same services to all users, regardless of their geographical location, the technological means they are using or the website pages they are interested in. Any type of discrimination of any kind is prohibited, even that under the form of differentiated price schemes.

The last rule is the main reason why Indian Internet regulators want to ban Facebook’s Free Basics service. The initiative was first started by Internet.org in February, but the lack of a clear legal background has determined Indian users to criticize Facebook and its philanthropic act.

Indian Internet regulators announced on Friday that they find Facebook’s decision to impose different prices for the pages that people access discriminatory. They are now asking Internet.org to revise and communicate the terms and conditions they want to apply. These rules will be analyzed by Indian regulators and if net neutrality terms are not observed Free Basics will be banned in this region.

The initiative started as a philanthropic act stemming from Mark Zuckerberg’s desire to offer Internet services to people in underdeveloped regions. The Internet has become a vital tool and it should be available everywhere, according to Mark Zuckerberg.

Interrnet.org was first started in February 2015, but users in India were not impressed. They immediately complained that the service is not free as Zuckerberg initially stated. In their defense, Facebook responded by saying that Internet.org only offers access to a limited number of websites, which have been chosen based on their informative content.

To avoid similar complaints, Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of Internet.org into Free Basics. The official announcement of the new name stressed the fact that users in India will have access to just a limited number of websites.

Reliance Communication, the telecom company that brings Free Basics to India is supposed to charge users differently based on the services they provide. Their decision will be analyzed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to see if it complies with net neutrality rules. If they reach that Free Basics is discriminating Indian users, Facebook’s initiative will be banned in India.

Image source: www.flickr.com