Net Neutrality has been a debatable issue in India and has garnered quiet a heat in past few months. And every time we talk about Net Neutrality, Internet.org has not managed to sway away too far, and has in fact been one of the central points of debate across sections.
While the intentions behind the initiative are noble, Facebook and Internet.org almost immediately faced a backlash from those in support of net neutrality. And now that he is in the country, he didn’t miss the chance to keep his views upfront on this topic.
At a Townhall Q&A held at IIT-Delhi, Zuckerberg said –
There is this big struggle, debate in India now on how you balance these two things and this is an incredibly important debate because India is the country in the world with the most unconnected people. Connecting everyone to the Internet should be a priority as it will help in creating jobs and elevating people from poverty. I think we need to make sure the regulatory framework that enables both of those things — net neutrality protection that folks need and the ability to work on new models for (internet) access.
He also said that it is not sustainable to offer the whole Internet for free, but is possible for internet.org platform to give basic services without any cost.
In September, Facebook rebranded the platform as ‘Free Basics’ and launched it in 19 countries, boasting more than 250 services. However, changing the brand name has so far failed to bring the heat down, especially in India.
Further explaining his stand, he said –
Free basics does not intend to harm anyone — neither the consumers nor the operators. Any developer who can stream low-data consuming content can be a part of the platform.