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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Net Neutrality vs. Free Basics (and why I use the 'vs.')

I originally posted this on my Facebook timeline. It is reproduced (with added formatting) here to hopefully reach a wider audience. I would also like to request someone to translate this for non-English speakers, who are the target market for Internet.org/Free Basics.
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<fact>
Let's clear this up once and for all: Net Neutrality and Free Basics (new name of Internet.org for India!) are conflicting ideas! Anyone who signed petitions for both is under woeful ignorance, I'm afraid.
</fact>
<opinion>
As for which to support, here's my two cents. You can skip it and read the much better explanation in the link, too.
  1. Free 'basics' does not include Google, LinkedIn, or any educational/financial/trade websites. It includes Facebook and its partner apps, which allows them to control the 'news', 'information' and 'education' that people supposedly will receive from it. Facebook's version of digital 'equality' is not equality at all since it will give this much to all for free...
  2. ...which telecom providers (who will incur the loss, not Facebook, who gain via traffic and ads) will make up for by hiking data rates for everything else. So someone with more money has more access to digital resources in a worse way than ever.
  3. Because of the monopoly of a company/companies on information (via agreements of Facebook and partners with telecom providers), the internet will not be neutral and there will be no opposing opinions. The Internet will essentially become China. Our government is right in banning free basics, since it will stifle our voices on the Internet, the only platform still relatively safe to voice our opinions on!
  4. What Facebook could do if it had the right intentions: subsidize basic things like Google, LinkedIn and net banking for helping underprivileged/remotely located students, job seekers, traders, etc.; and do this via ads (or even donations, if they really have such kind hearts) instead of changing the way telecom providers charge us.
  5. And no, Facebook is not the worst place to share this, but the best, because Free Basics stifles Freedom, something that Facebook originally took to new heights, but now is selling out for capturing the lucrative market of the non-Internet-using Third World population.
</opinion>
<request>
Whichever side you support, please do spread the idea that the two are in conflict!
</request>
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