Facebook has started an elaborate corporate propaganda to promote its version of so-called “digital equality” and support for Free Basics (previously Internet.org) in India. I decided to troll one of their own tools of propaganda against them. Also included are bonuses on what else you can do to defend net neutrality in India, and why it is so important.
UPDATE: We’ve won!
What is Net Neutrality and why is it important?
Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers do nothing which gives a competitive advantage to any website, application, platform or service accessible through the internet.
Why? It is simply to ensure that everyone with access to the Internet is placed on an equal footing, with equal opportunities for growth, a facet key to the open and innovative nature of the Internet.
Such methods which violate net neutrality include charging different rates for accessing different services, slowing down or speeding up certain services, taking money from a service to prioritize it, providing certain services for free, etc.
Notable platforms pursuing such methods are Free Basics (previously Internet.org), Airtel Zero, among others.
The moment you get access to the Internet, you are placed on an equal footing with established corporate giants like Google and Facebook. You have as good a chance as them to make it or break it (provided you’re willing to put in the hard work to rise to that status). You are equal with everyone else.
This is the idea of a free, open internet. And for reasons obvious, it must be preserved.
Shameless Corporate Propaganda
Tieing up with a specific TSP to provide selected services free of cost to the customers of that particular TSP? Every word of it stinks of a violation of net neutrality. That’s Internet.org, now renamed Free Basics.
Be warned, people. Facebook has now embarked on a complicated system of corporate propaganda to promote its version of what is apparently “digital equality”, which clearly it is not.
- It has started publishing attractive full page advertisements in major newspapers to promote this.
- It is also putting up billboards in India for this purpose.
Facebook wants to manipulate its wide user base to “voice their opinion about Free Basics in India”, which is just a indeed just a stamp of approval on their (probably purposefully) misguided notion of so-called “digital equality”.
They want to flood TRAI with emails supporting “digital equality” in India (read, Free Basics in India), using you, a user of Facebook, as a pawn.
Surely, you can do better than that. Don’t fall for it. Stand up for net neutrality!
Facebook wants me to “voice my opinion about Free Basics in India”. So I did. I voiced my very own opinion, quoted as below.
“To the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, I support digital equality for India. I support net neutrality, the principle that no measures should be taken which allows ISPs/TSPs to give a competitive advantage to any website, application, platform or service accessible through the internet, must be preserved in public interest, at any cost.
Since Internet.org/Free Basics is conspiciously a violation of the same, I have decided to troll this tool of corporate propaganda to voice my opinion against it. Regards, a concerned citizen.”
P.S. Emphasis added.
Your Opinion Counts
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Indian equivalent of the US Federal Communications Commission, has once again published a consultation paper.
It is open for public comments till December 31, 2015. TRAI wants your opinion on whether differential pricing for data usage may be allowed for by TRAI (present tariff regulations based on the principle of non-discrimination do not).
Do send in your comments. This sample reply might be of some help, although I’d highly recommend you send in a self-written email.
Also, a copy of my comments I sent in to TRAI can be accessed here, if it might be of any guidance to you.
Stand up for net neutrality! Defend innovation and the Internet.
Update: Success for Us
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has stood up for net neutrality. Read the news story here.