UPDATE: TRAI has extended the deadline for accepting comments from public over this issue. Last date to submit your response is 7th January 2016. Scroll to the bottom to find relevant links.
Last year, around the same time, we signed a petition on Change.Org & SaveTheInternet.in supporting Net Neutrality and opposing Airtel Zero & Internet.Org type services which force users to view only specific websites in the guise of ‘free internet’. This time around the devil is back with a new name for the same ponzi scheme. It’s now called ‘Free Basics’. (Guess all the close quarter meetings with our PM finally paid off for Mark since he got a second chance to screw us in the rear). Everyone from Mahesh Murthy to Vishal Dadlani to AIB are talking about it extensively too, so let’s jump right into it.
Well, the bawaal here is about Net Neutrality. A word you have heard more lately, but probably don’t know much about. Net Neutrality is the idea around which the free internet has been built till now – that no service provider, government or corporation should be able to dictate which website should the people be able to visit and what the speed should be, thereby providing a fair competitive advantage to the whole internet equally.
You should care about this because with the “Free Basic” scheme, Facebook, a for-profit American corporation along with a for-profit Indian telecom giant (Reliance Telecom) decides what websites India’s poor public should access. This is not a Government subsidy scheme where all the websites in the world can be visited for free. Hence there is zero accountability on their part to comply with. If Facebook feels that they don’t want to show your website to the people, they’ll just shut you off in a single click. Boom. Just like that, Facebook now becomes the God of Internet for the 1 Billion+ Indians.
Free Basics is an evil plan implemented by Mark Zuckerberg and the Ambanis. Under this scheme, the holders of a Reliance SIM card will be able to access 100 websites chosen by Facebook (They call this ‘Basic Internet’) for free using the Free Basics App . But if you want to visit any website other than the 100 there, you pay extra. If you don’t, you keep using the free internet. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Who would ever want to pay for internet after this?
What’s wrong with the ever so benevolent Mark’s approach is that the world has 1 Billion+ websites (That’s with the B.). That’s 100 Crore+ websites with all sorts of content for the whole world to browse. But Mark has decided that only 100 of those matter, and those are the ones you should visit and these are the ones that will ‘enrich’ poor Indians’ lives. And guess which website is on top of that list? Yup, Facebook. Now, pray tell me the last time Facebook helped you do one single productive thing.
Also, there’s no such thing as a Basic Internet, Intermediate internet or Advanced internet. There is no course in Sikkim Manipal University where the Basic Internet course teaches you how to use Facebook and Wikipedia, while the advance teaches you to watch porn using incognito mode. All the internet is one flat world. Everything is basic and everything is advanced depending on how you look at it.
If he does feel so giving, he should give full 100% access to all the internet for free. To make it economically viable, he can put a monthly data limit of say 100 MB or speed limit of 64 kbps. This way people can visit anything they want, and can learn what they wish to. Isn’t THIS true freedom? This solution is not unprecedented by any means. Similar schemes have been running in Bangladesh, Africa, and many other Third World Countries.
Let’s just put our logic hats on. Free Basics / Internet.Org / Airtel Zero is a plan made by the for-profit companies Facebook, Reliance and Airtel. Do you seriously think this is a poverty upliftment social cause or CSR initiative to help the untouched India? Well, I wish.
India is a country with 1.2 Billion people. Most of these people obviously don’t have internet, let alone Facebook. That’s 1.2 Billion new freshly minted user base for our Dear Mark, and that’s tonnes of billions of more dollars in ad revenue for him. A small piece of which he will throw at the telcos for the free service they gave us, and we will now have become Mark’s female canines. India will see what he wants us to see. That’s too much power for one corporation, and definitely not the idea of free internet.
Now he does insist that the FreeBasics version of Facebook has no ads. But nor did the Facebook’s original site – initially. Everyone knows you don’t start a service filled with ads. You get the people hooked, and once they catch the bait, show them the ads while you reel in your butt load of cash.
I don’t trust their moral compass to do the right thing or anything since you must have experienced how they patronised you and made you sign a petition putting a nail to the already underprivileged India, and made you feel good about it. They simply used the tools they had for their own will with a simple click. They made you believe that you have a freedom to choose what they wanted you to choose for them ( #Thinkception 😛 ).
Well, no. I love the way he has built Facebook. They say the greatest ideas are mostly stolen. But putting the past where it is, Facebook is really a great tool to connect the people you don’t want to be talking to in person and share pet videos. But, do I want them to control what my country sees and learns? Hell No!
Cool. Let’s go back a few years, when Orkut was a thing and writing on each other’s Scrapbook meant the world to us. Those were the times when having internet on phone seemed next to magic. What if, at that time, Google would’ve come and told us ‘I’ll give you free internet. But you know only the 100 websites that I approve. I will cover one website of each type. So don’t worry about monotony’. What if we would’ve said yes? Most of us would’ve used Orkut for the rest of our free internet lives, and nobody would’ve given Facebook a chance. Orkut would’ve won without having to lift a finger.
It is thanks to the free internet and the right of choice that Facebook was able to launch after Orkut, yet win over the world. This is the same internet that Facebook is now trying to gate up, and all the advantages for Facebook so far outweigh the claimed advantages to us Indians. Hypocrisy much Mark?
If you don’t fight for a level playing field for our future generation, we would be devoid of all the possible innovation that the world has in store for us, because we would be busy running behind “Free Basics” begging for free but restricted internet, instead of maybe a slower, but complete and unlimited internet.
Today is apparently the last day to tell TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) to stop this madness and give way to Net Neutrality. I know it’s a pain to sign up onto these websites, but I promise you, these are the two minutes you will never EVER repent spending, and will secure the digital future of our and all the generations to come.
2. You should additionally sign THIS PETITION by the amazing man named Sandeep Pillai on Change.Org where he is fighting to get TRAI to NOT allow Telcos to charge extra (apart from your paid data packs) for apps like Whatsapp, Skype, Viber etc.
3. You can click on ‘Respond to TRAI now’ button on SaveTheInternet.In
P.S.: Mark Zuckerberg actually supports Net Neutrality in the US, and fights against Telcos over there who want to attain similar selfish monetary goals by charging bigger websites like Netflix & Facebook for faster speeds. But apparently Indians are less than humans to him. #SabChaltaHai
Kshitij runs The Patil Post and Zetabyte Solutions Pvt. Ltd. - a web development company focussed on E-Commerce implementations. Loves to eat, sell, write and talk. He is an avid reader, an enthusiastic traveller and trekker at heart.
This marathi manoos has truly grasped the essence of digital India according to me, this is the true technological upliftment of indian people, and that too he did without support of government or any major organisation, he built this system in some part of rural India on his own inspite of benighted and destitute conditions.
If you do not want to watch the whole interview, watch from 17 minute mark where he has shared a video of his work, from which you will be able to grasp the gist of his work.
where one man like him can do such a thing in harsh conditions , in a selfless manner without having any ulterior motive of gaining any monetory benefits, and on the other side there is this cesspool of corporate skullduggery who just do not give a fuck about people, and for whom this is just a motherfucking game ,but they have the means which can make this a fairly achievable task. i just feel like putting this video in a pendrive, attach that pendrive to a bamboo stick and shove it inside mark’s perky white butthole.
Great! Kudos.But a shorter version of this would make more people read this message. It also may be emphasized that many startups will be killed as they can’t compete with gaints initially. This leads to nipping in the bud stage many a talent and originality.
I agree, but the issue is so vast and comparitivly tough for non techie common people to understand. Hence i had to lay out the article a little wider.
I agree about the startup part too. How will anyone new (or old) compete when they can’t even reach the common public hooked to free but restricted Internet?
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