Off late, Facebook had been under heavy criticism over their efforts of promoting their ‘Free Basics’ service in India. The company had been heavily promoting the service, and had been releasing newspaper ads to facebook ads to even offline promotions regarding the free basics. However, despite all their efforts, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has rejected their plea and the government of India has now banned the Free Basics app in India.
Citizens of India had reportedly sent over 2.4 Million e-mails to the TRAI urging them to NOT allow Free Basics, and to let the net neutrality prevail. 500 Indian startups wrote to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi regarding the same.
“While formulating the regulations, the authority has largely been guided by the principles of net neutrality seeking to ensure that consumers get unhindered and non-discriminatory access to the Internet,” TRAI said today. “The regulations intend to make data tariffs for access to the Internet to be content agnostic.”
Facebook had been trying to tap into the Indian markets since the year 2013, and had slowly been progressing. A visit by the Indian PM to Facebook HQ last year accelerated this progress, and the company had allegedly been trying to sneak in their Free Basics with the help of the Digital India campaign that was designed by the Government of India.
Zuckerberg had the following to comment upon the TRAI verdict – “While we’re disappointed with today’s decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world. Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the Internet,” he said.