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Zuckerberg fuels Free Basics vs Net neutrality debate in India

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 Dec 2015 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, Dec 29: First splashy full page ads in major Indian newspapers and now a persol piece by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a leading English daily defending Free Basics, the war over “free” or “selective” internet services for the poor and net neutrality has entered a new phase. “Free Basics should stay to help achieve digital equality for India. Free Basics is a bridge to the full internet and digital equality,” Zuckerberg wrote in his opinion piece on Monday in a leading daily, defending his ambitious initiative to provide a pre-selected suite of internet services to those who can’t afford it. “There’s no valid basis for denying people the choice to use Free Basics, and that’s what thousands of people across India have chosen to tell the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over the last few weeks,” he added.

On Tuesday, Nikhil Pahwa, a volunteer with, wrote a counterpoint in the same daily against Zuckerberg’s appeal to save Free Basics. “Why has Facebook chosen the current model for Free Basics, which gives users a selection of around a hundred sites (including a persol blog and a real estate company homepage, while rejecting the option of giving the poor free access to the open, plural and diverse web,” he asked the Facebook founder.

Users who log on to their Facebook accounts are greeted with a message: “Act Now to Save Free Basics in India. Send a message to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and tell them you support Free Basics in India.” Some users are even receiving “notifications” from friends: “sending messages to TRAI about Free Basics.” (IANS)

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