Lashing out at Facebook (like virtually everybody else) for its “opinion poll” strategy towards getting support for its Free Basics initiative, TRAI has now rejected the 1.4 Million plus comments received by it in support of Free Basics, calling them ‘not meaningful’ since they don’t specifically answer the queries posed by the regulator.
For a background, a month back, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) had drafted a consultation plan seeking public’s comments on zero-rating plans and services at discounted rates being provided by certain telecom operators like Reliance and Airtel.
Since Free Basics provides free internet via certain websites by collaborating with mobile operators, it has always been questioned whether it is a sheer violation of net neutrality or not. And Facebook not providing Google — which is undoubtedly the most quintessential resource for anyone on the web today — has made problems worse.
The TRAI Chairman has emphasised that the entire activity was not an ‘opinion poll’ and respondents should not treat it as an open-ended question. Instead, they should have answered the four particular questions pointed out in the consultation paper it had floated about.
Internet.org had the idea of providing free internet to people in developing markets and then further provide them with certain useful and basic apps on the platform. The mode however as per Free Basics is to provide apps, and has been drawn out as a subsidiary of the original Internet.Org initiative.
We respect the responses but they need to be pertinent and need to be meaningful to us. We have given extra days and appeal to them to frame responses to our questions, giving specific reasons. They just can’t say they love Free Basics,
As expected, Mr. Sharma did not put forth his views on the aforementioned subject. Accordingly, the apex telecom body has extended the deadline for the exercise.
The Internet.Org project was banned in Egypt a day ago due to license and regulatory troubles.
Facebook’s Free Basics has become the centre of the net neutrality debate ensuing in the country right now, with some of the best minds publicly voicing their views. Zuckerberg too has aggressively pushed for Free Basics with a marketing blitzkrieg replete with double page ads and banners. FB has also used its own site to promote the platform.