January 26th, 2016
The whole Free Basics controversy have brought different stake holders of the Internet at loggerheads. With TRAI recently castigating Facebook over Free Basics, TRAI has proved they are not someone who could be brushed aside by popularity. Recently Wikipedia has also distanced itself from Free Basics much to the delight of the proponents of Net Neutrality. We spoke to one of the staunchest critics of Free Basics, Mr Udaya Prakash, founder of a startup based in Bangalore. We asked him about Free Basics, the actions taken by TRAI and Wikipedia.
■ What is Free Basics & Net Neutrality?
Free Basics intends to provide it is an open platform that gives Indian developers the opportunity to make their services and websites available free of cost to those who cannot afford internet access. Not all websites and apps that will be made available for free, which goes against the principle of Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality in simple terms would mean access to internet without discrimination.
■ How could Free Basics go wrong?
The new users grow up thinking free basics is actually Internet. It would kill competition and breed monopoly as competitors will not be allowed. No new social network or messenger service can come up to challenge Facebook if free basics is widely adopted. As no competing services are allowed in the platform. There will be two internet lanes. One for the poor people, another the regular internet. The poor internet unlike the regular internet will be heavily regulated by Facebook and will not be neutral. There by defeating the fundamental law of the web, where every data is treated equally.
■ TRAI has cracked the whip on Reliance over Free Basics, your thoughts?
TRAI took the commendable step for hearing out people’s opinions on Free Basics, its merits for continuation and enforcement. Facebook had tried to gather support for Free Basics by requesting its users to send a mail to TRAI showing support. However TRAI has rebuked the whole process as the email’s in support did not talk about differential pricing. It had wittily said the emails in support were not the answers to the question TRAI and critics of Free Basics had raised. TRAI had asked Reliance to suspend Free Basics operations and issue a compliance report for the same. It shows TRAI is actually listening to activists and condemning Zuckerberg is proof that TRAI doesn’t treat policy decisions as a popularity contest.
■ On Wikimedia distancing itself from Free Basics
Wikipedia have distanced themselves from Free Basics which comes as a shot in the arm for the critics of Free Basics. Free Basics have found the going getting tough by everyday on establishing Free Basics in India. For Zuckerberg’s next billion users, China is not an option whilst India is a necessity. And for Free Basics to spread to other developing countries, how India reacts or rejects will be pivotal.
The Logical Indian commends the activists for raising their voice and also lauds TRAI for their consultative approach and the bold stance they have taken. The Logical Indian is firm on their stance against Free Basics and are certain about the catastrophic consequences of the same.