Net neutrality: Facebook shuts Free Basics in India

Net neutrality Facebook shuts Free Basics in IndiaNEW DELHI: In a boost to net neutrality, Facebook has decided to shut down its controversial ‘Free Basics’ program in India, following telecom regulator Trai’s move to bar operators from charging different rates for Internet access based on content.

Facebook had met with severe criticism for its program, which aimed at providing basic Internet access to people in partnership with telecom operators.

Critics saw this as violation of the principle of net neutrality that states that entire Internet should be available to everyone on equal terms as Free Basics allowed access to selected websites.

“Free Basics is no longer available to people in India,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed response.

The service was available in India with Reliance Communications. In December, RCom put the service on hold following a Telecom Regulator Authority of India’s directive to that effect.
Ruling in favor of net neutrality, Trai has barred all telecom operators from offering discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content, implying that operators will have to charge the same price for data used, irrespective of website or app accessed by the consumer.

This puts an end to Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel’s zero rating plans in India.-PTI

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