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Facebook musters users' voice to defend in India

By Rediff Business Desk
August 07, 2015 12:13 IST
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FacebookThe DoT panel has opposed which allows access to certain websites without mobile data charges

Facebook is left with just a week to defend its free Internet access platform

And for that purpose, the social networking site is mustering support of its users.

India’s Facebook users have been getting a message on their profile pages seeking their opinion on having free basic online services.

"Do you want India to have free basic online services? The mission of is to get everyone in the world online.

"Show your support for free basic online services in India," says the message.

"Soon India will decide on the future of services like Please comment on this post today to help us tell your MPs that you want to connect everyone in India. ?#?connectindia? ?#?connecttheworld," the message adds.

Another seven days and the public comments will appear on a Department of Telecommunication panel's report.

The DoT panel has opposed which allows access to certain websites without mobile data charges.

The panel says that free Internet services like that of the social network's violate Net neutrality.

It, however, has favoured allowing zero-rating platforms like Airtel Zero but with a rider that operators should take prior permission of the telecom regulator to launch it or take action against such plan.

The DoT panel's report on net neutrality, which has been placed on MyGov website for public comments till August 15, has received just over 500 views against over 10 lakh (1 million) messages that were sent to regulator Telecom regularity Authority of India through an online campaign in support of implementing ideal net neutrality in India.

What is Net neutrality?

Net neutrality implies that equal treatment be accorded to all Internet traffic and no priority be given to an entity or company based on payment to content or service providers.

What led to the controversy

There has been a huge controversy over the Net neutrality issue in India after Airtel launched Airtel Zero that would allow free access to some websites on its network.

The platform drew flak from public, especially information technology companies.

They termed it a discouraging move for start-up Internet based firms who don't have financial strength and could check growth of Internet eco-system in the country.

In a column published in April, Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar wrote: “The Internet is too important to let a few private telecom players decide what the rules will be for consumers.”

Many members of Parliament, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and most Cabinet ministers have their Facebook pages.

By end of June, Facebook had over 125 million users in the country.





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