Corporate Life

Net-neutrality v/s Free Basics – a False Choice?

My Curiosity Aroused

With the hype of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent visit to IIT-Delhi coupled with the controversial issue of internet neutrality, my curiosity was aroused, rather late perhaps, so I decided to do a little homework on the subject.

Net Neutrality Defined

“The principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites” is how google defines net neutrality. And what happens if I do not have internet facility to even google net neutrality?

Net access, a Moral Responsibility?

Let’s look at FB founder’s take on this. “Those pushing for net-neutrality have access already. Those not on the net can’t sign a petition for access. We have a moral responsibility (toward) people who do not have access”. Sounds good and rational, I thought.

Enter “Free Basics” by Facebook.

This perhaps justifies Facebook’s introduction of Free Basics, or internet.org.  So I went back to google, lol!  Was there a life before google? “Internet.org is a partnership between social networking services company Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) that plans to bring affordable access to selected Internet services to less developed countries by increasing efficiency, and facilitating the development …” In other words, offering basic low band-width and text services for health, employment and education whereby subscribers can access them free of cost. This will particularly favor and help build developing countries like Bangla Desh, Africa, India, etc. Currently, approximately 15 million people world-wide access such services and once exposed to them, tend to upgrade to full subscribers of the internet.

Free Basics, a Restricted Usage?

Protagonist for Net neutrality, Nikhil Pahwa, has a different story, when he states that FB is creating a “false choice” as free basic users will access FB and its associates, thereby restricting usage of the open web, which goes against the principle of net-neutrality, since net neutrality is all about free access to all sites, without prejudice or bias to any particular site. Certainly a good counter-point to Zuckerberg.

So the controversy rages on…….

Now, if one needs to take an online vote on this, will that be courtesy Net-neutrality or Free Basics?

 

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