This is an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg which would reflect my thoughts on the Free Basics initiative by Facebook and how it affects Net Neutrality. I strongly urge you to understand the meaning of the text and take action! If you don’t want to end up curbing the Net Neutrality for the benefit of these big companies, DO SHARE IT!
I was your fan! Seriously, I took you as a role model, for you were one of the rising stars of Entrepreneurship long before this subject was known to me. I admired the genius within you, for you always kept Facebook alive by introducing new features, major or minor. I was even greatly overwhelmed, when I read your decision of donating 99% of the Facebook shares on the event of your daughter’s birth (By the way congratulations for your daughter Max!).
But you disappointed me!
Sure, I appreciated the Free Basics initiative when it was on its initial stages, just because I was seeing the picture from the perspective you were showing us. But then, I heard the voice of the Net Neutrality activists, and thankfully, my opinion about Internet.org changed! Yes, this issue seems like a big debate which has no end, for your team is smart enough to answer the questions in a way that confuses me, and your big front page advertisements are hitting the Indian emotions. I can now see a clearer picture and you can now count me as one of the Net Neutrality activists.
I am not criticizing you, Mark! Not at all! I appreciate the fact that you attempted to answer the questions raised by the common people. I even appreciate the fact that the VP of Internet.org agreed for a reddit AMA. But Mark, why don’t you answer this one question raised by us:
Why Only access to the sites chosen by Facebook? Why Not Access TO The Open Web?
We have many personalities, companies and NGOs who are trying to connect the remotest people to the internet, and none of them ever thought of providing such a restricted access like your initiative. Why can’t you do the same for the world?
This fact might hurt you – TRAI is listening to the voices of the activists and has asked for the opinion through e-mail. Free Basics is currently put on hold by Reliance. And now, TRAI will decide whether to allow Free Basics in India or not. I don’t know what will be their decision, nor do I can predict the consequences, but when you know that USA didn’t allow Free Basics to get in, Egyt has just banned this concept and now we are fighting to throw it out, you must be really disappointed.
You’ve misled the Facebook Users and asked them to support Free Basics. Millions of people did that too, But don’t think that victory will be at your side. Activists have prepared an in-depth answer at SaveTheInternet.in and I believe millions of people have done their part against Free Basics too!
Coming to the meat of the whole story. Why the heck are we against your Free Basics? We do not have any ancestral conflicts with you, Mark, but there are certain points we would like to stress upon.
When Free Basics is limited to a handful websites, isn’t it too easy to predict that this initiative is just to keep you and your partners happy by being ahead of your competitors? I do not know whether you were greedy enough to think of it that way, but this is what will happen if Free Basics is widespread.
Sure, any website can join the list of Free Basics, but you never said that you will be approving all the websites. Your terms say that Facebook has the right to accept or reject a website? You’re not just killing your competition, but also killing the startups and blogs of Indian origin. You’re literally going to reduce their traffic and visibility by a big margin.
You said in May 2015 that over 8 lakh people joined this initiative. But actually, only 20% of them were new users, while 80% were people who already had internet access. Doesn’t that clarify your intentions? Clutter advantage to competitors!
You’re not the only one to be blamed for, TRAI is accused too! Its the third time they are asking for response. Do they think our viewpoint will change dramatically? I hope TRAI remains unbiased, because I can’t imagine of a day when the Net Neutrality will be curbed, and we will be asked to pay separately for separate parts of the web. I don’t want to see advertisements saying: Get 100 MB WhatsApp for Rs.80, 150 MB YouTube for Rs.100 and 200 MB Facebook for Rs.150. That would sound just too dumb, and just too unfair!
I am really happy that many companies rolled out of Free Basics campaign, and I hope more of them do it too! I admit I wish that Free Basics is reduced to ashes, and I admit that, because for me, Net Neutrality for my country is more important than digital equality! I pay, I choose!
I would be really happy if you step out of this fight. I believe in my countrymen and I know they will strive to keep Net Neutrality safe. If you want digital equality in India, make it open for the entire web. I do not mind if the bandwidth is limited, I do not mind if you put ads in it, but I do mind if its limited to a bunch of websites.
And yeah, one last statement. When we don’t want it, why are you too eager to give it?
What can I do for Net Neutrality and Free Basics?
TRAI has extended the deadline of submitting your opinion to 7th January. Make sure you send an e-mail to TRAI showing your support towards Net Neutrality. Go to SaveTheInternet.in to do this!
Only sending an e-mail won’t help. We have to show to TRAI and Facebook that we are aware of our rights! Keep this issue trending on social media! Discuss about it, share your viewpoints and make sure you are very very clear about this subject.
Here’s a video from AIB that explains the scenario in detail:
Once again, requesting you to share this post! It’s in our hands to save the internet and this can only be done by making others aware of it! Let me say it again, It’s in our hands!