Sorry Mark Zuckerberg, We Cannot Allow You To Control Internet. 5 Reasons He Is Completely Wrong
Mark Zuckerberg has written a letter, meant for all activists of Net Neutrality in India. In his letter, he says, “The Internet is one of the most powerful tools for economic and social progress” and argues that “this is why we created Internet.org, our effort to connect the whole world”.
He informs us that “already more than 600 million people in eight countries can now access free basic services through Internet.org” & highlighting his achievements in India, he shares, “we’ve already rolled out free basic services on the Reliance network to millions of people in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and Telangana”
According to him, via Internet.org, he has turned into a messiah of progress and development as, “Internet.org lowers the cost of accessing the Internet and raises the awareness of the Internet’s value”. He makes us believe that Facebook is trying to empower the underprivileged, women and the poor via his scheme of free Internet.
But what he does fails to write is that, by providing only a ‘set’ of free Internet services, he has turned into a ‘capitalistic racist’, who wants to shove down ‘his choice’ of Internet to the ‘poor’.
And this is the most dangerous thing to happen in this decade.
Here are 5 things he hid from his letter
1.) Chandauli Children Do Not Have A Choice
1) In his letter, he mentions his visit to Chandauli, a small village in Northern India, and is amazed how children are learning ‘Internet’, thanks to his Internet.org.
But he hides the fact that children from this tiny rural village are only able to access 35 odd websites which have taken part in this scheme. Hence, for them, Internet is only these 35 websites. And as Reliance has partnered with Facebook for Internet.org, these children are being exposed to choices which are not made by independent minds, but by corporate managers of Reliance and Facebook.
No great idea will be born from this village, ever, because the core definition of Internet is altered.
2.) Additional Charges For Other Websites
He says his free Internet.org provides an opportunity for the poor and under-privileged persons to access jobs and weather and news content without any extra charge. But what he fails to mention is that, as soon as a user of Internet.org tries to access another website outside their partnership, there is an additional charge for that.
Point 4, section B from the Terms and Conditions of Internet.org by Reliance: “Charges will be applicable as per data plan/ pack, if Customer clicks on a link that directs to a different website, outside of www.internet.org hosted sites, then he will get a prompt with the message informing him that he is stepping out of the Free website.”
This will severely discourage that user to visit any other website, and he or she will be forever trapped within the confinements of the choice which Big Brother Mark has made for these hapless souls. Not only is it crushing the competition, but by lieu of providing ‘free’, its making them addicted and brainwashing them into a particular, closed world.
3.) Internet.org completely violates Digital India
He says that “Our work complements Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India Initiative, which aims to expand Internet access across one of the world’s largest nations.”, but he very cunningly fails to mention that the core of Digital India vision is to provide connectivity and empowerment to all Indians via ‘digital’ medium, and not Facebook and their 35 odd websites platform.
Infact, Internet.org completely violates Digital India principles as it encourages and inspires rural population to access only a few websites, which will entrap and dependent on the choices made by Facebook and Reliance.
The objective of Digital India vision was to empower Indians with information and equality but here, they are losing their power of choice.
4) Facebook Needs to be Accessed Through Internet.org to be free..Why?
Mark says that “We fully support Net neutrality. We want to keep the Internet open. Net neutrality ensures network operators don’t discriminate by limiting access to services you want to use..”
But he very deliberately omits to mention the data charges applicable if other websites are accessed (as shared in point #2) and, more importantly, if Facebook or any any other website is accessed outside the Internet.org application!
As mentioned in Point 4, part E of the Terms and Conditions for Internet.org:
“Charges will be applicable as per data plan/ pack, if Customer: Surfs Facebook or any other free sites directly instead of going through internet.org.”
Hence, Internet.org openly violates the free nature of Internet; binds and compels the user to access Internet via Internet.org app, and intentionally crushes all competition.
5) What If Other Telco’s join Internet.org Platform?
As per Mark, “We will never prevent people accessing other services, and we will not use fast lanes. We’re also open to including all mobile operators in Internet.org, and we’re not stopping anyone from joining. We want as many Internet providers to join so as many people as possible can be connected”
But what he fails to mention is that, if other mobile operators join Facebook’s Internet.org platform, then it will be complete monopoly of them over Internet. Yes, they are not stopping anyone to join them because they will be happy if this nexus between corporate superpowers combine to dominate the web, and ideas and hence, they can own everything.
As mentioned in a brilliant post by SaveTheInternet coalition in Hindustan Times, a study was conducted to understand the “bottom of pyramid” telecom users in Indonesia, where people responded that they don’t use Internet but when asked about Facebook, they said that yes, they use Facebook. The same was found in Africa as well.
For these users, Internet is Facebook! And by implementing Internet.org across India, they are trying to do the same.
If Mark goes back to 2003, when he launched FaceMash in Harvard campus, and the success inspired Facebook.com, he will discover the root of this problem. Assume Harvard only allowed free access to MySpace (which was quite popular at that time), then what would have happened to FaceMash and Facebook? We would still be using MySpace as it was free.
If Mark is seriously concerned about empowering all, and to connect the world using Internet, then he should ensure free access of all the websites, not just 35 odd partners.
Special thanks to Times Group, Cleartrip, NewsHunt and NDTV for pulling out from this evil conspiracy to tame Internet and we hope that good sense prevails over other partners of Internet.org as well. And, to Flipkart for pulling out from Airtel’s similar plan to dominate Internet.
We cannot let Mark Zuckerberg own and control Internet.
If you think otherwise, do drop in your views in comments…