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Internet.org Rebranded as ‘Free Basics By Facebook’, But Net Neutrality Remains Violated!

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Free Basics

Facebook has renamed their controversial, anti net-neutrality app Internet.org to ‘Free Basics By Facebook’. The announcement comes 72 hours before PM Modi’s meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at their headquarters in California, USA.

Explaining the reason behind this drastic change, Facebook said in a blog post, “We’re making this change to better distinguish the Internet.org initiative from the programs and services we’re providing, including Free Basics.”

Internet.org domain now redirects to their new website: Freebasics.com (which right now tells us that a Reliance SIM is needed to access it).

For those who are using Internet.org app right now, there would be no major changes; however, new users will not find Internet.org app on Google Playstore now as ‘Free Basics by Facebook’ would be the replacement.

In May this year, Facebook announced that there are 8 lakh users of Internet.org in India. Surprisingly, only 20% of them are first time Internet user, which means that 80% of the users of this ‘free Internet’ are mainly those who already used Internet but switched to Internet.org due to the free scheme.

As of now, Free Basics by Facebook is available across 19 countries, where 250 free apps and websites are available for their users.

Net Neutrality Violation

We have extensively covered the reasons which make schemes such as Internet.org and Airtel Zero completely against net neutrality, and the new branding exercise won’t change the fact.

Albeit, it is good to see that Facebook is ditching the term “Internet” from their scheme, as previously, the name created false impressions infront of a first time user. Activists of net neutrality were concerned that future generations may synonym Internet with Internet.org, and that would have been a dangerous situation.

Leading publications & apps such as Times Group, NDTV and News Hunt have already withdrawn from Internet.org project, citing net neutrality issues.

PM Modi To Meet Mark Zuckerberg

Tomorrow, that is September 27, Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to meet PM Modi at their headquarters in California, US, and conduct a live Q& A session.

Zuckerberg had announced this meeting last week on his Facebook page.

PM Modi is right now in USA for a 6 day visit, where he will meet various tech entrepreneurs and CEOs, which include Google, Tesla and Adobe.

It is speculated that the issue of free Internet via Internet.org (Now, Free Basics) would be discussed, as spread of Internet is the core promise of PM Modi’s Digital India vision.

We hope that PM Modi is able to put across the threats which Internet.org poses for the Freedom of Internet and a feasible solution is worked out which ensures that Internet is spread all over India, without killing it’s freedom.

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