Facebook is working hard to make its Internet.org initiative, under which it provides free access to the selected websites in developing nations, a success. However, in India, the efforts by the social networker may not get the desired results owing to the ongoing backlash over internet freedom.
Big names opting out
India has recently been taken with a wave of discussions over the net neutrality. Owing to the seriousness of the issue, several big companies have chosen to limit their involvement in the initiative, says a report from Quartz. One such big name is the media giant Times group.
Accusations are being made against the so-called zero-rating deals including Internet.org. It is being claimed that such deals are biased towards certain online traffic by offering them special treatment, and hence violate the principles of net neutrality.
Following the debate and over the internet freedom in the region, several websites chose to opt out of the initiative. The Times Group has already warned that it will withdraw completely, and has already been pulled out two of its popular apps namely TimesJobs and Maharashtra Times. The project may see few more exits such as the travel portal Cleartrip.com and TV channel NDTV, says the report.
In a statement, Times group said, “As for the Times of India itself, the group commits to withdraw from internet.org if its direct competitors—India Today, NDTV, IBNLive, NewsHunt, and BBC —also pull out.”
Facebook CEO determined to solve the issue
On April 15, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to resolve the issue by defining a common platform allowing both net neutrality and zero-rate deals, says the report.
It all started last month, when India’s telecom regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), came up with a consultancy paper that discusses whether or not the over-the-top services offered through the internet by telecom operators and internet service providers—should be licensed or regulated
It is ironic that even in the 21st century; internet access is not available to a major part of the population. Facebook took up a noble cause of connecting the world with the internet, but it is facing resistance. In India, Facebook partnered with Reliance Communications to offer free access to 37 websites or apps.