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Net neutrality: Facebook gets an angry call from Trai

Experts claim Free Basics violates the principles of net neutrality

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, March 2, 2015 Picture by  AP/PTI
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, March 2, 2015 Picture by AP/PTI

The Regulatory Authority of India has in a strongly worded letter slammed the campaign of giant for as a “crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll”. “Your urging has the flavour of reducing this meaningful consultative exercise, designed to produce informed decisions in a transparent manner, into a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll,” the said in a letter to “Neither the spirit nor the letter of a consultative process warrants such an interpretation which, if accepted, has dangerous ramifications for policy-making in India,” Joint Adviser K V Sebastian said in a letter dated January 18 to Ankhi Das, director of public policy, India, South and Central Asia, On the Trai’s consultation paper over differential pricing of data services, had asked its users to support by agreeing to send an email in the form of a template to the regulator. The received 2.4 million comments on its paper, of which almost 1.8 million were from users. The regulator had asked to tell its users to specifically answer the queries raised in the paper. was misleading its users with its ‘Save Free Basics’ campaign and the responses sent by it were not relevant to the questions posed in the consultation paper, the regulator said. The giant had launched a public campaign to defend its platform in response to the consultation paper floated by the According to reports, spent Rs 300 crore on the marketing campaign. allows users to access certain websites without data charges.

Experts claim violates the principles of net neutrality. In its response to Trai’s letter, has said it “attempted to cooperate” with the regulator’s request. “While we did not include all of the specific language drafted by Trai, we did deliver a brief request for the additional information and included in the draft email the exact language from the four specific questions posed in the consultation paper,” Das said in a post on Facebook’s India page. While accepting that it had drafted template statements, pointed that users were given an option to alter the text. It claimed 1.4 million people submitted revised comments and additional 5.2 million users filed detailed comments addressing the four questions by the regulator.

(With inputs from Bengaluru)

First Published: Thu, January 21 2016. 00:57 IST