Net-neutrality activists, particularly in India, have been quick over the a year ago or two to label Internet.org a threat to the open, free Internet we’re used to-one that doesn’t discriminate between highly capitalized success stories like Netflix and Google and scrappy new startups that hope to be the next Google or YouTube or Facebook. “The declaration recognises internet access is an important enabler of human rights”.
If Murthy’s analysis of internet.org is overly harsh, Zuckerberg’s estimation of its impact is greatly exaggerated, and his vision of it as a purely beneficent endeavour hard to swallow.
As we can observe, he even convinced PM Modi to do the same, and encouraged all Facebook users to change their DPs. As per them, the ISPs will ask users to pay for extra money for better internet speed on one hand.
After publishing the article, I received quite a few flak for criticising Zuckerberg and for doubting the seemingly noble intentions behind the clamour of support for Digital India. The company is trying to position the internet.org initiative as a sum of multiples required to push access to the next billion through moves including Free Basics. As we explained before, by inserting itself in between users and the websites they want to access, “Facebook and its partners have issued an open invitation for governments and special interest groups to lobby, cajole or threaten them to withhold particular content from their service”.
This is why we created Internet.org, our effort to connect the whole world. Internet in its current form, still free as air despite fighting pollutants of control and lack of access from many fronts, will become a bastion of the rich, who will be buying their way into knowledge economy. Our ISPs are already customer-hostile.
As reported by The Times of India, the number of Smartphone users in India has ballooned and will reach 168 million this year, the research firm eMarketer predicts, with 277 million internet users in India expected over all. And Facebook has made those technical requirements (which are necessary for websites to work properly on low-end feature phones) much more specific. The information superhighways will be basically digital graveyards with no access beyond what’s carefully sanctioned.
While Facebook seems to have gone out of its way to both clarify the confusion and make public its intention to change the code, it goes without saying that there would have been no media outrage had the social networking giant refrained from using the words “Internet.org” in the code in the first place. Facebook also launched a tool to allow its users to change their profile pictures to support the Indian initiative. Facebook still hasn’t come clear on its involvement with US National Security Agency’s notorious Prism programme, under which extensive and absolutely illegal surveillance of world leaders and diplomats was carried out. The most recent case being the draft policy aimed at prescribing modes and methods of encryption in India that evoked strong responses and was finally withdrawn by the government on 22 September. Looking forward to discussing this with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Facebook today.
Mark Zuckerberg has resolved himself to actually taking the the web in to fugitive types, as he makes it an easy our…
Also at play is a natural debate about net neutrality. Despite Modi’s penchant for hugs, this is not the beast we should embrace.