TRAI’s Response to Multi-Million Dollar Free Basic Campaign Will Restore Your Faith in Govt Agencies!


Save the Internet Big

TRAI or the Telecom Regulator Authority of India published a letter in response to questions raised by Facebook in regards to their multi-million dollar Free Basic campaign. The letter addressed to Ms. Ankhi Das, who is the Public Policy Director at Facebook will restore your faith in TRAI and our Babus!

As you might already know, Facebook spent millions of dollars trying to garner support for their Free Basics campaign. They had full page double spread ads in all national newspapers, ran missed call campaigns and orchestrated a shrewd email campaign on Facebook, wherein unsuspecting users were prompted with a pre-written message, which would be sent to TRAI to show support for Free Basics.

In first couple of days alone, this campaign generated over 6 lakh emails in Facebook Free Basic’s support. By end of campaign, Facebook claimed that they had sent over 11 million emails to TRAI in support of Free Basics.

The Net Neutrality supporters remained worried about this aggressive campaign from Facebook.

However, TRAI called the bluff!

After the date of consultation paper passed, TRAI asked Facebook to get in touch with all these people, as none of them had answered the 4 questions that TRAI had asked in the consultation paper. TRAI even tried to contact these users, but all the emails bounced back.

Lets look at the excerpts of what TRAI told Facebook (and trust me, you will be proud on how TRAI has responded)

TRAI first questions Facebook on whether users have made informed decision in supporting Free Basics and whether Facebook had conveyed their users with the real facts ( and questions in consultation paper)

TRAI response1

Facebook gave a reason that TRAI’s email address was not working…Here TRAI literally ridicules Facebook here.

Free Basics response1

TRAI indirectly calls all the templatized responses a farce (not in exact words)

Free Basics response2

In the letter TRAI included the 4 questions from the consultation paper as well as templatized responses given by 11 million (or 16 million) Free Basics supporters. TRAI goes to say that they received only one legitimate response which was already uploaded on TRAI website

Free Basics response3

And the best part was left for last. TRAI literally scolded Facebook for making a joke of the whole consultation process and said it can have “dangerous ramifications”

TRAI Consultation main


Hail TRAI and the people behind drafting such an awesome response. They have minced no words in calling spade, a spade!

You can check out the full TRAI response letter here.

Most of us in India have a not-very-good image of our Babus when it comes to getting work done – We have a general impression that they are incompetent and lackadaisical when it comes to doing their jobs.

But, for me personally, I see things are changing in India and the response to Facebook is a great example.

Another example: If you attended the Startup India event conducted last week ( or watched the webcast), you would have been proud looking at all those Government secretaries from various departments answering questions from Entrepreneurs. They were positive, knew about their domain very well and were courteous enough to understand the problem and give right solutions.

  1. says

    Hats off, TRAI. We atleast know that Telecom Regulation is in safe hands. The attempt to hijack net neutrality cannot be allowed. We do not want one more external domination and arm twisting

  2. Decimator says

    Good stuff, somebody stood up to them!

  3. DigitalGalaxy says

    Good for the regulators! Internet access is a utility, it is a basic right, not a privilage, and not something that Farcebook can control by bribery. Facebook and the rest of the tech giants have a categorical imperative to connect the developing world, but Facebook is corrupting this for their own financial gain. FREE BASICS is supposed to be everyone getting slow Internet for free, then paying for speed. Not free Facebook only.

  4. BlueBlonde says

    Was worried about Facebook’s so called free basic campaign and most of my unsuspecting friends fell to their trap, and finally TRAI shut them down for good

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