It's an all-out blitzkrieg. I've seen full page ads in newspapers, banners at bus stops, even ads on local Indian websites.
It's one of the scummiest things I've seen from a major company.
Free Basic....get only the limited things we want you to have and the companies who are willing to pay for it. Fuck. That. Shit.
Want to do something that will actually help people; what about Free 1GB. Ensure every person gets 1GB of mobile data a month. Then they can go anywhere...use healthcare, government, facebook or....porn. or whatever the fuck they want. I agree, Free Basic is total bullshit.
when was the last time someone in the valley/sf even tested their sites/apps on 3g? let alone 2g...
"Banning free basics on the basis of net neutrality [...] means 1 billion people cant afford to access any services."
It isn't a choice between having facebook, or having the full internet.
Its a choice between having facebook, or having no internet at all.
Surely no internet at all, is the worst option.
Nobody else is going to give full internet to them for free. They will be stuck with nothing.
If any carrier chooses to provide full Internet access for free, they may do so.
So far they haven't, though. Which is why company-sponsored basic service that's free to the users emerged in the first place.
Now this is what I think. Facebook is interested in being a monopoly and this step will ensure its rivals don't get in (because facebook pays for it). This is what all the argument is about. Saying billion people will get free internet is just an eyewash. They don't give you full internet, just the part which serves their interest.
Carriers should not control/discrimintate internet access. This should apply to other companies as well.
End of the day it's all about barriers for entry - the barrier to provide free WiFi is relatively low, and one can do it at the cost of an uplink connection and a wireless router. If you find a way to lower the barrier for wireless telecom space, the market forces will take over.
One carrier is already trying this.
Also, facebook isn't even financing the actual data (the carriers are), and the carriers' business plan (get people hooked onto the Internet so they migrate to a full plan) works on any form of "free limited internet" plan, where the plan is limited by speed or a data cap instead of by limiting what "Internet" means. Facebook is a third party which has wedged itself into this with extra deals; but the situation from the carriers' point of view shouldn't be much different if they set a free data cap or provide a free slow internet plan.
Feudalism may have lifted more humans out of poverty than any other system in the history of the world at the time. It's a good thing we didn't decide to stop there. What would you have written at the time?
Also, altruism is perfectly at home with modern evolutionary theory because it assumes a more enlightened, rather than simple minded, understanding of altruism.
To add to your point, which I'm sure is in reference to macro-level phenomenon such as the interdependence of species, symbiosis, ecosystem complexity and the like, it's important to note that multi-cellular organisms are the epitome of individuals (cells) working for the greater good rather than local self-interest. Eons ago single cells started working together and specializing. White blood cells, neural cells and muscle cells don't compete against each other, much less is there white blood cell on white blood cell competition. When cells behavior breaks from the greater good, we call it cancer.
A perfect example of pure self interest is the virus.
Interesting that many people do consider capitalism akin to cancer, or that it behaves virally.
But whereas altruistic solutions to problems require continual interest from the donor class (which is subject the same fads as the rest of our culture), or government coercion (which eventually gets co-opted by political considerations), market solutions are robust because people are profiting from them. We'd all love to feed the starving people of the world, but sending ships full of free food isn't the solution (and can actually be harmful). It's much much more effective to set in motion the market forces that will create a stable food supply year after year.
The Internet is a basic utility and public good. Monopoly usually doesn't seem to be a good model for these kinds of systems.
Without that regulation, multicellular organisms wouldn't exist.
If what is required for people to act in a way that benefits others is for the people to be motivated to act that way, it seems that people being motivated by the benefit that their actions have for others would be a good motivation for them to act that way, as far as it is an available motivation.
Which, seems compatible with some senses of the word "capitalism". People value their own well-being, and the well-being of others, by some amounts, and based on that, take actions and make agreements with others so as to serve these ends as they see fit.
Of course, in that sense any system could be seen as a sort of capitalism, leading capitalism to be almost like a tautology?
Which doesn't seem to match how people use it, so either I don't understand the intent behind how people use it, or, uh, it's almost kind of empty? Probably the former.
with only one tv channel/radio station/available free web site to billions of poor, bad politicians can focus much easier on praying them. this worked very well when their only entertainment was religion cults.
everything has a consequence that will indirectly affect your ivory tower.
If there's an alternative way to expand connectivity, then why doesn't it exist now, or why doesn't someone set it up in competition to Free Basics? No one will use Free Basics if they can get real internet at an affordable price.
And your characterization of "one station" is wholly inaccurate. Even if the service included only Facebook (which it doesn't, as anyone can apply to have their web service included in the system), that's millions of profiles and pages with differing opinions, competing products, etc.
(I realize that "unlimited communication tools" is the best answer here, but no one provides it at the budget specified, at least yet).
>Even a delay in getting people online is better for the people's interests than locking them into a shitty closed system for the long-term.
That's because you have the luxury of having Internet access and are not affected by lack of it. Why don't you let those without any access at all get some access and let them decide whether they want to be locked in or not? Or are you saying you know what they want better then they do?
High inequality and mega-rich charity are a related issue. Rich people is not contributing with taxes as they should. If that were the case the states will have more resources to help where help is needed.
This was in the news some time ago: "Germany's super-rich have rejected an invitation by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to join their 'Giving Pledge' to give away most of their fortune. The pledge has been criticized in Germany, with millionaires saying donations shouldn't replace duties that would be better carried out by the state."
I completely agree with that position. The state, voted by its citizens, should decide not the super-rich even when they have good intentions.
So, given that, we're doing what we would've wanted to be done if we were in their position.
Locking me into a particular website (or a set of) , especially the one which misuses my personal information is not something i want to be locked into.
Hence, we shouldn't stand by silently letting them be locked into "Facebook and partners".
Facebook is so asking for it, this time.
Actually, I'd rather get any connectivity I could get.
is the same logic as, "let people sell themselves into slavery". Sure, who is X to stop someone from selling themselves into slavery, right? But it's also an extreme asshole response to a situation where a rich and powerful slaver goes to poor people and says, "my goal is to help you, when you choose to become my slave, I will clothe and feed you and even educate you, I'm doing this to help you" and someone criticizes that.
It doesn't matter if it's not MY business to stop FB or take away others' freedom to use FB. FB is still doing this to gain power, and the ramifications of this long-term are terrible. And your statement amounts to "FB has a right to lock people in (and to misrepresent their motives), and people have a right to choose to be locked in" which is a shitty pathetic reply to my criticism.
Its easy for us to say this is no good and it should be stopped because Facebook access is not as good as the full internet. But who are we to deny poor people what little they can get?
Internet is built on principles of neutrality. It is built on public property (airways, land) that government leases to companies on our behalf.
Internet is what it is today because of this neutrality principle. It has given rise to so many companies out of nothingness and created so much opportunity for disruption and growth. So any
We do not want to turn Internet into something useless and backwards (like cable/tv networks). That is what Facebook is trying to do here by lobbying the government to change policy. This has to be stopped no question.
Now let's talk about affordability.
Government should look into programs that will lower the overall cost of Internet by reforming how they license spectrum.
They can also provide free access to Internet in public places - like public schools, public libraries, train/bus stations, agri markets etc where most information hungry people who cannot afford are already there. They can also encourage large city/town center operators to provide free wifi.
All said, most poor people in India who don't have Internet are in tier-2/3 cities and villages where there is no connectivity at all today. So, it is not a question of affordability but connectivity.
Facebook is being irresponsible and evil in this case and exploiting the situation and not doing anything to help. In contrast, google recently launched a program to provide high-speed Internet free wifi in 400 train stations in India. This is the largest public wifi program in the world that will actually help poor people.
Indians who can afford smartphones and electricity, but not a basic data plan (how many?), will be getting Facebook access at the price of being subjected to advertising, tracking, etc.
Second hand smartphones are getting pretty cheap. 2.8 billion people live on less than 2 dollars a day. A second hand smart phone might go for 20 dollars. So its a few weeks worth of savings.
Imagine all those people getting on Facebook. They will find a way to use it for what they need.
Ten weeks income, and someone who lives on 2 dollars a day can't afford to save 100% of their income to buy a smartphone.
And how much would used smartphone prices increase if a billion people wanted to buy one?
Sharing or renting makes more sense, but in that case, why not share the cost of a data plan?
It's Facebook's fault that many Indians can't afford the Internet? Okay...it's also Facebook's fault that there is poverty in the world. You know, poverty that spontaneously started to exist in 2004, when Facebook was founded.
"Its a choice between having Facebook, or having no Facebook at all."
Do not let them confuse you into comparing the two... What you just said is why this sort of think makes my fucking blood boil (no anger at you friend, it's with the institution manipulating you).
What they are trying to do, and this really pisses me off, is rebrand "internet" to "Facebook," for poor Indians. A group who as of right now is unaware of the difference and less apt to understand the evils of the marketing engine behind it because they are not yet connected.
Tangent: they are making this so much worse by using government built spectrum. What the fuck kind of perverse asshole thought that would be okay?
... Back to the point.
Think about this, from an infrastructure standpoint: it will cost them more in firewalls and configuration to limit the Internet than to simply allow unfettered access.
I'm not even kidding, they are going to spend more money implementing basic access than by just giving out plain ol' Internet. Knowing that, I find it pretty fucking audacious Facebook thinks we are all so fucking stupid to accept that line of shit.
Okay... they know we won't but we don't matter to their growth target. They need mobile users, that aren't already users, that they can exploit for money (ad views, sponsored content) or their stock will tank because they aren't going to hit their growth target for Qn.
So where do they look? The world's poor. They go in and offer "internet," and market it to them as a "right" or some sort of moral high ground. Then back home they market their "humanitarian" efforts making for some touching PR moments.
/slow-clap "nice work, assholes."
And finally for how this is actually worse than "no Facebook at all," is because FB's marketing machine will go around saying to governments and media "don't worry about India's Internet, we fixed it." This, I promise, will slow the development, if not halt it, because other organizations non-profit or for-profit will think it's a done deal. Even scarier is that the people in those areas won't want "internet," because "Facebook is good enough."
Digital slavery is what this should be called. It should be abhorred. It should be vilified. It should not be tolerated. We should all be angry.
Edit: Updates for grammar and to let person I was replying to know I'm not at all upset at them or trying to direct anger their way.
About that tangent: what makes you think of restrictec spectrum as "government-built"? It's spectrum.
Such as having lots of subsets of the internet being offered for free or cheap, and the real internet being gradually priced out of the range of most people(citing 'infrastructure costs" of course). This can't be prevented as long as there's a loophole for Free Basics in the net neutrality regulation.
So.. a choice between having no internet with a chance to be part of the effort to destroy it and having no internet ?
It is critical to understand that there can be no internet without net neutrality, if you support in any way a choice that goes against net neutrality, you're taking part in destroying the internet.
Free Basics isn't the answer, but going from no-internet to just-a-tiny-bit-of-internet can have a big impact on someones life.
Funnily enough, having worked for a while on projects in rural Maharashtra, the children are the path to information for those villages - they're the ones who can read and write and know the prices and share information upwards to the adults.
(the conclusion being, back then, that one should market to children...)
Plus: provides "some" internet for a billion people ... including wikipedia and various info apps. Includes photo sharing, chat, ...
Which of these is more important ? That's the big question being discussed here. And of course the people discussing how this might stand in the way of their future profits feel absolutely no need to provide an alternative ...
Chat, fb, etc is free for now, because Facebook "allows" it to be free. Once everyone is on free basics, they can do a U-turn and say only Facebook messenger, Facebook website, Facebook * is free. What are you going to do then?
What prevents them from doing this?
Letting FB or any company be a gatekeeper to net is wrong on so many levels. There are so many devious things they can do and we as people or other companies will be totally helpless.
Point 2: FB is not a gatekeeper in free basics. FB simply provides a convenient door for the local telcos to open.
Point 3: The telcos, better known as the Indian government's corrupt cronies (meaning the Indian government gave ownership away to specific individuals), were, are, and will be the gatekeepers.
Making it slightly more difficult for some multinationals (other social networks, MS, linkedin, ...) to make profits in the future does not justify taking this away. If you feel this is unfair, then either convince the Indian government to provide your brand of free internet. I'm sure the amount of money that requires is a factor 10 less of what you'd think it is, which of course still makes it half a billion dollars or so.
In case you've missed it somehow. The internet is centralizing. That's the whole point of the cloud. That is what's being defended here. You're just defending one company centralizing against another. Amazon (including ec2), Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Oracle, ... all are centralized computing platforms that give you zero say in how your software runs, how your data is kept, and you can bet your ass all of these will lock you out. That is the thing they all agree on.
You seem to think this hasn't happened yet, but think about it. This has happened, it's too late.
I do understand why telcos won't give all internet for free. In fact I'm amazed fb got them to allow any chat app at all, given that it'll kill SMS.
What I'm asking is why is potentially raising entry costs in the Indian market worth, morally speaking, denying internet to millions of people?
The Internet is a global communications network. It allows you to connect with anyone anywhere on the planet and nearby space. Without access youbare severely limited in what you can learn and do.
* -- Perhaps you could try tracking your time and see how much of it you spend on facebook. I recommend rescuetime.com
But that's such a slippery slope to go on.
What prevents other companies to hop on the bandwagon to provide their own services for free?
And one day, lo and behold, we're on an Internet where the cost of entry to compete with the big blue (or any big gun) is almost insurmountable.
> "having no internet at all"
because what Facebook is offering is anything but the Internet. It's not even close to being the Internet.
It is Facebook's walled garden which they control, they decide what lives there and what remains, what gets kicked out.
You know what is worse, it is not that Facebook is providing something that is not the Internet, but the worse is - it will give a precedence to such business practices that may effectively kill the Internet as a medium, as we know it today, in India and turn it into the cable company model commodity where we have to buy packs of "access X, Y, Z services at speed A", or even "access sites X, Y, K" when there is another pack "X, K, M services pack".
It will affect innovations, new services in a drastic manner. Can you imagine what the status of Facebook would have been if the Internet all over the world was in a way that provided Orkut for free because Google paid for it by including it in its "Google Free Basics" pack? I don't think Facebook would have been here at all.
Now, let's say Amazon arrived in India before Flipkart, Snapdeal (Indian e-commerce portals) and jumped on an "India Free Basics" plan and now people have free access to Amazon but this guy in Bangalore who started Flipkart couldn't afford to jump on that "India Free Basics" because hey, they didn't have deep pockets from the beginning. The list of what-if examples can be endless here, I just hope you get the idea.
> Nobody else is going to give full internet to them for free.
Indian Govt actually provides highly subsidised Internet in rural areas and is working to make it more accessible. And ideas like Facebook Free Basics are actually going to harm such initiative by the Govt giving them a reason that people already have "Free Basics". I mean not saying this is how it's gonna end up exactly but let Facebook and Network operators have their way right now and something similar is waiting for us in the future. Sounds like a mild dystopian story? Well, read about "license raj" in India and related stories.
> They will be stuck with nothing.
No, they won't. They will get the Internet, maybe few months, or a couple of years down the line - slowly (and this is already happening) which is better than not getting "the Internet" ever, or when it's too late.
By the way, what stops Facebook from kicking WikiPedia and Khan Academy out (let's just say they are there) later on and rather bring Snapchat, Vine and Instagram in its place? Now, you may say it's better to watch cat gifs and share selfies than having "no Internet at all", where again you'll be missing the point that "this is NOT the Internet" and that line of thinking is unfortunate in my humble opinion.
A lot of these points have been covered in these videos by a local standup comedy group (in order): https://youtu.be/mfY1NKrzqi0, https://youtu.be/W0w_YhZUYeA, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAQWsTFF0BM
I feel so angry at their persistence in this case. My feeling at this time is for the SaveTheInternet petitioners to also up the ante in return, by starting a movement to get people off Facebook.
As such it was lucky that WhatsApp founders did not have the bxxls to wait another year, when they could have acquired FB instead. All my school friends use WhatsApp more over here. And recently I am seeing increasing no. of people sign up on Telegram. (WhatsApp groups suck, that's another story, but kind of suggest that social networks are far from done. FB is perhaps the version 0.1 in social network maturity)
We should convey a clear message to Facebook, play fair or pack up. Early. I am glad I did not login to that stupid thing for over 3 months now.
PS: I have signed this petition as well as at least one earlier. I request other people based in India to do the same.
The messaging is extremely misleading.
How do we up the ante against Facebook? This is just not done.
One way, I can think of is to quit Facebook altogether, if Free basics is passed by TRAI. Yesterday I saw a bit of momentum on Indian twitter, and last date is 30th, so hopefully even this 3rd attempt now, can be defeated. Lets see. Good to see more of my fellow country mates feel the same way.
To Downvoters: Can you please allow us to have a civil discussion. See we are determining the future of our country. If you must do so, do. But please also explain, why you don't like what we are talking. Please.
 Should have explained that this quitting should be en masse. Ideally, all the folks who signed the SaveTheInternet.in petition should quit, and urge their friends also to quit. It will be noticed by media for sure. Already AIB has a nice video ('aib save the internet part 3' on YouTube). Vishal Dadlani has a nice 2 minutes video in Hindi, calling out Facebook's fraud on this. I don't think people will take this lying down, if free basics is allowed. Or that's what I hope for, and I am willing to make my small contribution of quitting FB, and urging my friends to do so. If SaveTheInternet folks decide for it, should it be needed.
"internet services like ... farming"?
Facebook, despite the fact I use it, is a slimy ad platform that creates stories at the expense of those that use it. I mean they "market their customer usage".
I've yet to see an explanation for the fictitious likes.
It's creepy, and messed up.
Edit: (Leaving the original post untouched), it appears Facebook will show you as having supported Free Basics if you clicked polls which seemed completely unrelated (as the original article points out, polls about "Connected India" for example. Still quite a distance from having supported Free basics, which is what Facebook appears to show.
Pay close attention: the corporations have no scruples about manipulating you to get their way, and Facebook is no exception.
A conciliatory response to this deception from Zuck himself is warranted; this kind of lie-distribution (to over a billion people) shouldn't be accepted quietly. Furthermore, if Zuck wants his philanthropy efforts to succeed, lying to a billion people to support his company is going to torpedo it.
This is a serious problem, because China already showed us the end game of this tactic with Sesame Credit.
People here defend Facebook's actions what they don't realise is "motive", "intentions" and the modus operandi to achieve the goal. Facebook's actions and ethics are screaming foul play on steroids here.
The web has been so successful because of any one of us can fire up a text editor and create the next phenomenon without spending a single dollar or seeking anyone's permission.
This is not charity, it is a coup d'état.
The Net Neutrality activists of India, are bunch of middle class disconnected from poor activists. They think their idealogical purity is paramount than a dirty limited connection for the poor.
I am afraid populism will one more time win the day, while NN activists take a victory lap, the India's poor now will not have any form of connectivity.
Labeling someone who disagrees with you as being in an "ivory tower" is basically an ad-hominem. Argue the merits, not the source.
> the facts on the ground are 80% of Indians do not have internet access. You sometimes have to try "impure" methods. The question is still up in the air, whether FB Basics is gateway to full internet or if it is a walled garden. Either way, it is better than No Access.
What if a pharma company came and said, "you know, this medicine causes birth defects, but it's OK to push it on Indians because 80% lack decent medication"... would you be for it?
India is making tremendous progress in bringing connectivity to the people. I grew up in an India where telephones were so scarce, that the waiting list for a landline phone was more than 10 years. People in villages had absolutely no access to phones at all; reaching a phone meant taking a bus/train to the nearest big town, and going to a PCO.
And yet today, almost everyone has a cellphone.
By pushing this "walled garden" to the people, FB will capture the market and derail the train of progress. FB has the ability to pay local carriers; but does HN?
If you replace "birth defects" (which imply a complicated moral issue of mother vs baby) with "nasty side effects", and assume that without this medication 80% of population would suffer a fate objectively worse than these side-effects (like loss of hearing vs death) — why the hell not?
On other note, there are desperate patients and families who are willing to risk their health and are trying hard to get access to drugs that are in clinical trails even in OECD countries.
I've followed India's cellular revolution with interest, seeing (as I mentioned earlier) I grew up when India had almost no phones. My dad, due to his work, always had a phone; and I, being the youngest, was the errand-boy, running to distant houses to tell people that there was a phone call for them, and that the caller would call back in 20 minutes, so please can you come quickly?
The reason cellphones took off in India is that the government tried (some would say, not hard enough) to level the playing field and to remove barriers. What if you could make calls on Reliance to only Reliance folks? Or what if Airtel charged you Rs. 20/min for calls to Docomo, but Rs 1/min to calls on Airtel? This kind of balkanization would be disastrous to the cellphone users.
Similarly, if you want internet use to spread, you cannot do that by placing barriers and toll gates all around. It has to be unfettered access. Sure, this "basics" thing may be available right _now_ ; but users will then be locked into one mode of operation forever.
People who are arguing against FB are not just "intellectuals"; but people who have a lot of experience. I, for one, remember when the first Internet line to India was hooked up: it was a 56K modem, a Trailblazer. For the entire country of India. From there, we have come to terabits/sec fibre lines. So yes, I do know something about the Internet.
The ivory tower comment which you complained about up-thread read to me as "this is a possible cognitive mistake we might make, let us avoid it" (note that it used the word "us").
On the other hand, there is no charitable reading of the first line of your comment. It's just nasty, much nastier than the even the worst reading of the ivory-tower comment.
In the US an analogy that I can think of is obamacare, where everybody was forced to pay a certain amount of money as TAX so that the whole country is insured.... I dont see the same argument here.
What if Facebook gave everybody in India free phones and free calling, even if it was only on Facebook phones? Would anyone have to be the errand boy for their neighbors' calls?
I don't see how your experience where most could not afford any access (let alone restricted access) to basic telephony applies to this scenario where a restricted service is being given for free.
(I also spent my childhood vacations in rural areas where our house was the only one with a phone for miles around. And even then they would trouble us only for issues of some urgency. I have a hard time believing any of the people who'd walk all the way over would prefer doing that over getting a free but restricted phone service.)
You're missing the point completely. My point is: we are on the path to progress. It's going the right way for the future of the people. But Facebook wants to derail it and lock you into their ecosystem. In the long run, this is detrimental for everyone.
People who are here, posting for FB, obviously have internet freedom; so what they're basically saying is, the poor should not have the same freedoms that I am enjoying.
Overall, it has not caused any major disasters.
This is the whole net neutrality issue. No net neutrality, no internet.
Facebook can decide to do what it wants,but this type of spending on propaganda trying to change the policy in India is not acceptable and maybe not even legal. Not sure,but would it be allowed for an Indian company to take out full page ads in NYT against the raise in H1B visa fees?
There are full page ads in India for all sorts of things. Damn, if shell enough money, they would put a full page ad about my post in Hacker News. NYT and WaPo are in a different ball park, but they too at times are open to full page ads, what is illegal about that?
With some quite interesting results and consequences, you can't just drop a big bunch of monies on soomething expect it to solve itself or be successful.
Ad hominem attacks have been and always will be useful tools in debates.
Example: If you are rich and believe that the poor are lazy and always asking for handouts, it would be beneficial for someone to make an ad hominem attack towards your character and background as a wealthy person to help you see why your statements are biased.
It's not always ad-hominem. It might seem so because of the obvious tone used but at certain times it could just be that the context that a person is coming from could have a really significant impact on his reasoning (for or against).
I see this as a false dilemma. Internet access in India is already cheap enough to be near the cost of a phone over its effective lifetime. To quote the linked post:
> Given that data packages cost as little as Rs. 20 a month while phones cost Rs. 2,000 and up, we think their thesis itself is flawed
So the group that free basics can help to get online are those for whom the cost of a phone is feasible but paying the cost of a phone ×2 or ×3 for internet access is not. This is a relatively narrow fraction of the population.
Activists in India see that there are other reasonable alternatives to connect the entire population of the country that do not encourage the digital enslavement of their poor. The simplest one is a marginal improvement of per capita income that is driven by the people of the country itself, not exploitative "charity" from a foreign company. In very short order this, and the decreasing cost of technology will allow the whole net to reach everyone who could benefit today from free basics.
The false dilemma "better this than nothing" comes from a distant ivory tower that does not respect the capacity and future of the people of these developing nations. There are other ways to full access that do not sacrifice human rights.
Indians are very frugal, if they bought the phone, then that's the end of it. They won't even spend a single penny to buy the Internet.. Only way is to give it for free and let them experience the usefulness and long term effect.
How to give for free? That's up for debate.
A network paid for by foreign business interests and advertisers is fundamentally different than a network paid for by its users. But even though the foundation is different, they are in many ways substitute goods, meaning the presence of one will inhibit the popularity of the other. By the most basic economic reasoning, Free Basics will hurt the spread of user-funded peer-to-peer networks like the internet, just as distributing free clothing will hurt a local textile industry.
Based on that model, we can also predict the more fundamental difference between the two networks to be in the details w.r.t. privacy interests, not limited access.
There are better ways of giving out Internet for free. By giving out slower internet. Or internet with a free data cap. Or a way of "earning" Internet data after watching some ads (see: Grameenphone in Bangladesh). I'd somewhat agree with the "Some Internet is better than No internet" argument, except that there are better ways of doing the "some Internet" which Facebook isn't doing.
> why not facebook provide free internet access to poor.
Facebook isn't even paying for the data in Free Basics. The telecom operators are (I assume their business plan is to get more people hooked onto the Internet so eventually more customers for them. A valid plan.). They can use the same business plan (in a net neutral way) for the slower internet or internet with a data cap options; and I believe that's what Aircel is doing.
(Aside: When you look at it this way it becomes even more obvious how devious Facebook is here -- without putting in money of their own to finance the actual data, they, a third party, jumped in and convinced telecom operators to enact a scheme which Facebook has a lot of control over despite not being the primary financers of the scheme. They get lots of credit and lots of control, without actually doing anything. When framed this way the parallels with the Brits' takeover of India seem a lot more real.)
And really, the "no access" part of your argument isn't really well founded either. For most, data plan costs aren't the barrier to internet access (in fact, a smartphone capable of working with the modern internet is more expensive than a few years' worth of basic data).
: Fun fact: Facebook's mobile app evolves pretty fast and becomes unusable on older phones either due to browser compatibility, OS compatibility, or speed issues. Same with many other sites and apps.
They already support a truckload of configurations as it is.
(Also, for many low-end phones, updates come infrequently and OS updates are not always easy to install)
No it doesn't. There used to be free WhatsApp + Facebook/Twitter access over 3G/GSM here in Brazil for a year or so, NOTHING changed, except the poor could communicate with their friends for free and people spent less. Then came net neutrality* and now people have to pay to STILL only use social networks to communicate, like they did before the free plans and like they'll keep doing. Get a bus here and all you see people doing is chatting via WhatsApp or Messenger, even though they can access whatever they want for the same price.
As some other commenter mentioned, NN crusaders frequently seem like people who can afford data plans and have no contact with reality on a moral crusade about something they have no idea how it would or wouldn't work IRL.
* there are still some plans where you get "free WhatsApp", but you have to pay for the plan itself and the "free Whatsapp" part has something to do with your data cap ending and still being able to use services with low bandwidth.
1) I understand that people want free WhatsApp (etc), but I can't base internet policy on crowning WhatsApp as a free service. Indeed my whole position is that ISPs should not price-discriminate based on apps.
2) The fact that people used WhatsApp, Facebook & Twitter when they were zero-rated and continued to do so even when they are paid doesn't detract from my point about zero-rating being a unique advantage, quite the opposite.
3) Picking three services with strong network effects over the course of a few years is not what I meant about the fundamental nature of the internet. The point is that before WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter got popular, during their early growth, these apps and their users benefited from net neutrality. If apps become zero-rated over the long term their incumbency changes the nature of the internet from the state it was in when they were released.
AOL and CompuServe are good counter-points.
As for why there’s no turning back: for most of the internet’s history we’ve had ‘de facto’ net neutrality so we can codify the regulations without disruption. As soon as ISPs get habituated to pricing usage based on the app, it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.
Which is why you are free to take your business to another ISP that does no such shenanigans.
2) There are free VPNs out there. I am not sure how trustworthy they are, but people I know have been using them for ages.
I promise you that in this sort of Internet, Facebook would have had an even more uphill contest against MySpace. Mark should let Indians have the same Internet he had.
The facts on the ground for everywhere in the world not too long ago was worse than 20% access to the Internet. And I bet the current 20% Indian Internet users have much much faster connections than dial-up.
Things change. Fast. It is disingenuous to ignore the natural connectivity growth trajectory and focus on today's number only. Most will get connected to the Internet, with or without Facebook's "help" soon. The danger is with Facebook's "help", they'll get connected to FBNet (Free Basics Network, aka ZuckNet), diverting them away from connecting to the real Internet.
"Internet use in Cambodia grew a staggering 414 per cent since January 2014"
It's exciting to see. Most people in Phnom Penh have a smart phone, and I meet more and more full-fledged computer nerds and Cambodian programmers all the time. I have no doubt that Cambodia will be fully connected within 5 or max 10 years, without the "help" of Facebook.
I think it's a gateway to popularising tunneling; as long as FB lets those using FB Basics and those accessing FB from the full Internet communicate, you can still send information through. It's just like using FB as a proxy. Given that and what I know about Indian ingenuity, I predict a lot more hacks like this will appear:
So I suppose in some respects you could think of FB Basics as a very heavily throttled full Internet connection. You could even argue that FB and all the other companies giving "free" non-net-neutral access is driving incentive to hack around these restrictions, which I think is not at all a bad thing.
When facebook offers "free internet," whatever benefits it provides, the cost is hidden and built in elsewhere in Facebook's business model. Which means such a free internet that facebook is supposedly altruistically providing is actually being paid for elsewhere, whether in higher ad costs for India or some other area of their business.
This means facebook is essentially skirting net neutrality by indrectly paying for people to only have access to Facebook.
This is on top of anticompetitiveness of the move. Giving anything away for free destroys natural competition in the ecosystem. See the case of TOM's shoes giving away free shoes and destroying local shoemakers.
Their tactics here makes it justifiable for a country like China to block Facebook. Imagine if Facebook took over China, and started blasting political messages with ulterior motives to 2+ billion people, trying to influence them for corporate gain.
Competition is good, but Facebook has the power to completely destroy and monopolize local industries if unchecked (in less developed economies at least).
Is that what you want to believe or can you back it up ? I think your statement couldn't be further from the truth.
Once the poor have some access to social media - it will automatically generate demand for more and better services.
I'd like to know of the engineers/team in the chain of command who is responsible for the "Something went wrong" flag set on savetheinternet.in : http://i.imgur.com/K3JUack.png
Clearly this flag was not set on the grounds of pornography/violent matter/malicious link. This flag was instead set on a what is political speech, representing activists from a large swath of a democratic nation.
Consider how big of an attack this is on speech. Consider if a prominent website of any other political thought were thus flagged, and warned users away from.
To any folks from facebook reading this: please point out the team/engineers and the whole chain of command responsible for this flag -- this suppression is not a tiny thing.
That looks like a link where facebook has replaced the link to the website with their own URL for tracking purposes. As a consequence they have to prevent open redirect attacks - https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Open_redirect .
Yes the same system can be used for censorship - but facebook can do that anyway because you're sharing links through a platform they have total control over.
The irony (of using a facebook tracking url to promote an anti-facebook site) is beautiful.
We have a specific mix of an established tech ecosystem, educated middle class, and active (though imperfect) democracy, all of which combined to spark a grassroots movement for net neutrality. I hope we can resist Facebook’s lobbying, whether visible marketing like this or backroom deals with telecom networks and governments.
P.S. Not to mention the aspect I’ve seen many people bring up: a Western corporation trying to aggressively meddle in India has an unhappy precedent.
Are you referring to the East India Company as the linked article does? Please be clear, I am not familiar enough with Indian history, and I've seen no-one else bring it up on this page.
Companies. There were several - British, Swedish French, Dutch, Portuguese, you name it.
The British ended up taking the rest over, but practically every European colonial power had their own East India Company at one point or another (or tried to) and they all competed on how best to exploit the resources they could extract from India.
But I also think it's misleading to refer to this as "digital equality" or that Facebook and friends constitutes "essential internet services." The only essential Internet service is the fucking connection to the unabridged Internet. So call it what it actually is. Don't exaggerate (lie).
EDIT: I don't use Facebook, at all. I have tons of friends who don't use it, at all. So how "essential" is it? I'm completely OK with them giving free Facebook + only whatever else they want, but it's b.s. to call this essential or basic. It's not even really free if people are getting ad bombed to pay for it.. So yeah, let people have whatever this is, it's fine, but don't lie/mislead about what it is.
Last time, they received over a million e-mails , and that did have a positive effect. Let's 10x that.
It is SO obvious he's doing it to make sure Facebook has a permanent hold on the huge and growing Indian market. But to disguise it as a charity, that's scummy as anything I've seen a major company do.
Facebook is being irresponsible and evil in this case and exploiting the situation and not doing anything to help. In contrast, google recently launched a program to provide high-speed Internet free wifi in 400 train stations in India. This is the largest public wifi program in the world.
n.b : link to the full page ads : http://imgur.com/a/hb3nt
I would argue (as many do) that government regulations have a place in enforcing basic guarantees of safety and fairness. And net neutrality strikes me as very important to guarantee fairness, both in terms of freedom of speech and a level playing field for innovation.
Should there be fast-lanes in the US?
TWC: We'll offer plans with and without fast-lanes and let the customers choose!
Either the internet is the internet or it's not. Facebook wants to bring Facebook to rural villages? Fine, but they have to bring the whole internet with them.
Yes. Why not? Just like should there be expensive doctors, restaurants, entertainment, etc.? Obviously yes.
"Either the internet is the internet or it's not. Facebook wants to bring Facebook to rural villages? Fine, but they have to bring the whole internet with them."
My point is let the people in the rural villages decided wether they want Facebook internet or other forms of internet. Please don't decide on their behalf. It is very patronizing and antithetical to progess.
You mean like a company paying an ISP to place a server rack there and then reselling that server space branded as a Content Delivery Network to media companies who want their end consumers to have smoother experience (while the non-paying competition is stuck with "loading..." indicators)?
Nah, will never happen.
All Zuckerburg did was move his wealth to a private LLC, it's the degenerate media and press that interpreted it as "philanthropy", probably to get some Likes on their FB post.
you may want to revist it
On a more serious note this facebook campaign is an embodiment of principles elucidated Zero to One. Competition sucks, argues Mr. Thiel, try to create a monopoly. And monopoly is great if you are a business but for customers it is other way round. I hope India will preserve open and competitive internet for its citizens.
The article states that the chief aim of this campaign is to prevent Indians from using google. Are there any signs of them taking countermeasures?
They need to stop it now, by smothering it in the crib, redirecting its potential future users into a Facebook-curated walled-garden.
Growth is required for Facebook, and India is a clear growth area, China having been largely ruled off-limits by the Chinese government.
A toehold in one of the most populous countries on the planet. Has to have the Facebook board salivating.
It used to be that I could get by with a 500MB plan on my iPhone, and so long as I avoided video streaming, I'd usually use 300MB. Now I see that my Maps apps alone use that in a month, and I run out of 6GB bandwidth every month.
It's a truism that bandwidth is like highway lanes: If it's there, it will be used. But really, am I getting more functionality for the increased bandwidth? I think not.
Wikimedia. They do a lot more than just the encyclopædia.
> For years they have used server costs as one of the main reasons (and in the some cases the main reason) why people should donate. But their finance reports paint a very different picture. Their server costs reflect a very small percentage of their overall costs.
Server costs are not the only thing they need to spend money on. Consider their budget for 2015-2016:
40% of that is spent on engineering. Someone needs to maintain MediaWiki.
~6% is spent on legal - they're a large site that has to deal with copyright issues, they need lawyers. ~15% is spent on administrative costs, as if you employ lots of people, you need to manage them.
> They ask for way more money than they actually need.
They could run on a leaner budget, yes, but it's not as if the other money they get is wasted. More money means they can hire more engineers to work on the site and improve it, for example.
> More money is spent on "investments" and fundraisers than is spent on the cost of maintaining the site.
Looking at that budget, they spend more on Engineering than on Community Engagement, Grants, Advancement, and Communications combined.
> Some people have also alleged purposeful backlinking to their for profit sites. That is, adding and replacing links in wikipedia pages to point to websites that the wikipedia founders profit from.
Could you provide evidence, or at least a credible source?
Wikipedia's financial statements are easy to find and they provide them for you:
I'll go over my first point, and you can decide whether you want to continue to ignore my actual statements:
1. They use server costs to plea for donations. This is deceptive and dishonest advertising. In certain years, wikipedia abused the public's perception of server costs as their main selling point. Even when server costs are not necessarily their main selling point, they are more often than not the very first cost listed on their advertisements.
If you were to poll wikipedia donators, what % of wikipedia's total costs would they think are server costs if they are going by wikipedia's advertisements?
In 2010, wikipedia states they received the following in donations:
They list "internet hosting" costs for that year as:
In 2011, wikipedia's stated they recieved:
with "internet hosting" costs of:
Please stop twisting my words out of love for wikipedia. Wikipedia deceives their users about where their money is actually going and asks for MILLIONS of dollars more than they actually need.
"We ... have costs like any other top site: servers, power, rent, programs, staff and legal help."
I count six costs listed there. Doesn't look like "pretty shady" advertising to me.
Also, "internet hosting costs" in the financial statements isn't all the money spent on IT-related costs. For example, computer equipment is counted as an investment which then depreciates. In the 2011 financial statements you linked, Wikimedia spent $3.2m on computer equipment and $1m on depreciation (though depreciation would also include things like furniture). 
You also haven't provided any evidence for your claim Wikimedia promotes "purposeful backlinking to their for profit sites".
Finally, although it's an imperfect way to analyse charities, Charity Navigator gives Wikimedia Foundation 93.5/100, an excellent score. 
It's one thing to trick a bunch of poor people into thinking you're giving them free Internet access ... it's still free.
It's quite another to then shackle them by manipulating their legal system into disallowing any other free options.
I have a lot on my plate right now, but it sure would be interesting to do a very small scale proof of concept free wifi mesh anywhere in India ... just to see who that pisses off ... I see my favorite bulk IP provider (he.net) has zero presence in India, so that doesn't make things quick and simple ... we'll see ...
If there are all of these other alternatives, why doesn't someone set them up as a competitor to Free Basics. No one would use a limited service like Free Basics if they had free access to "real" internet access.
Facebook is not doing anything about electricity; I mention that statistic to demonstrate how modern infrastructure has failed to reach a huge portion of Indians. Facebook has come up with a business model that can reach people that don't have the ability to pay out of pocket for ANY connectivity. By making it profitable for telecoms to serve these people, Free Basics would encourage that infrastructure to expand to the one billion people it hasn't reached.
Facebook has not come up with a business model that makes it profitable for telecoms to serve people. They've just used their negotiating power, PR resources, government and corporate lobbying to convince telecoms to zero-rate Free Basics, calling it philanthropy.
Give a billion people free Facebook Messenger and I'm sure someone will develop an IoFM 'Internet over Facebook Messenger' protocol.
On another note, AOL was a walled-garden and look where that ended up.
Where are these figures from? Who pays facebook for signups?
Just looking for an insight into this.
India has a long history of reneging on deals. Once a deal is struck with most nations, that's it. Done deal. With India, they don't care - they'll do whatever is convenient for them.
They did just that on a huge WTO deal years in the making (source: http://www.npr.org/2014/08/10/339292735/why-indias-modi-defi...). The also reneged on a solar energy trade agreement with the U.S (source: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Industry/2013/02/07/...).
Hell, even Russia and China won't back out of deals once struck. They'll piss and moan if it turns out they got the short end of the stick, but they'll still honor the deal.
I tell my clients to steer clear of India for this very reason - it's nearly impossible to know when a deal is "solid". There's very little recourse if a business or person reneges on a business deal, or rips you off.
I almost hope facebook wins this little battle; India benefits from facebook pumping a bunch of money into India's infrastructure to build it up, supplying internet to the poor, then India says "Nope, sorry facebook, you gotta go. It was nice having you!". Facebook would get what it deserves. I actually wouldn't be surprised if that happens.
All we are asking our Govt. is to adopt same Net Neutrality standards that exist in US and other EU countries.
Companies like Uber/Amazon are already pumping huge money in India because they need us, not vice-versa. Just because we are open, unlike China, doesn't mean you can play unfair.
I understand that, and support it 100%. I am 100% pro-net neutrality.
> Just because we are open, unlike China, doesn't mean you can play unfair.
My issue is that India will play unfair. They have a history of it.
Say what you will about all the people who have their own anecdotal bad experiences with Indian companies & professionals over the last 5-10 years (dozens of accounts that I've read here, on our very own hackernews), but the simple fact of the matter is that even India's government has a track record of reneging on deals. And these weren't small deals, these were deals years in the making.
That's not good for India. Investors will (and are) balking at the idea of entering the Indian market because who knows when India will pull the rug out from under them when the mood strikes. There's also very little legal recourse when that does happen. It doesn't help when your country is among the most corrupt countries on the planet; they ranked 94th in Transparency International's corruption index. There are 93 countries less corrupt than India. Source: http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results
Most nations will do whatever is convenient for them. ex: If you are from US, GOP says they will cancel the Iran nuclear deal
> Hell, even Russia and China won't back out of deals once struck. They'll piss and moan if it turns out they got the short end of the stick, but they'll still honor the deal.
Not tue, ex: Hong Kong democracy
> I tell my clients to steer clear of India for this very reason - it's nearly impossible to know when a deal is "solid".
You just described all the other countries apart from developed countries where there are no severe penalties for walking out of a deal
> My issue is that India will play unfair. They have a history of it.
Every country does it. ex: Union carbide CEO lived happily in US till he died
> That's not good for India. Investors will (and are) balking at the idea of entering the Indian market because who knows when India will pull the rug out from under them when the mood strikes.
Investors know the risks, Equity Risk Premiums are higher for India (& other developing countries). If investors don't invest in India or China due to inherent risks then they might loose out in the long run given that the future returns from developed world will not be great
Most nations do not renege on trade agreements made with other nations.
> GOP says they will cancel the Iran nuclear deal
"Says" and "do" are two different things, they won't because it's unprecedented. The U.S doesn't renege on massive trade agreements, or with the WTO.
> Not tue, ex: Hong Kong democracy
Ignoring the fact that I have no idea what you mean by this, I do know that it is not a trade agreement, nor is it a financial agreement with another nation. You're comparing apples and oranges.
> You just described all the other countries apart from developed countries
That was kind of my point?
> Every country does it.
Apples and oranges - no "big" country reneges on trade agreements, or reneges on deals with the WTO that were years in the making. Those things are completely unprecedented. I think you, and those who agree with you, fail to grasp the scope and what those deals meant. They literally ripped off the U.S. The U.S delivered on its end, then when it was time for India to live up to its end of the bargain, they ran off. Literally. (See here: http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/biores/news/us-launches-ne...)
> If investors don't invest in India or China due to inherent risks then they might loose out in the long run
Speculation. China's economy is slowing down and India's is pretty stagnant (relatively speaking). Other than having a lot of people (over a billion each), neither country has much going for it. There is no innovation coming out of either country. Look up any "most innovative countries" on google and see if you can find China or India among them. Those countries investors may risk losing out on - countries like South Korea.
> from developed world will not be great
Just having a lot of people (big population) doesn't mean there is money to be made. Especially when the government in question (China, for example) is about as authoritative as it gets. They can literally take your business away from you and kick you out of the country and there wouldn't be a damn thing you could do about it. That's not opportunity, that's a minefield. And it's why foreign investors are staying away anb/or pulling their funds out.
Edit: I just noticed in a prior comment you said you were from India, a farming village. Don't you think you're a little biased on the matter?
There are thousands of excellent Indian professionals, leading some of the top companies in the world. It's your loss if you make your opinion from the bad ones. We just have too many people.
Also, 2015 was the biggest ever in terms of VC deals 10+ Billion USD, Foreign Investments, etc.
Let me google it for you,
"china renege on deal" https://www.google.com/search?q=china+reneges+on+deal&oq=chi...
"russia renege on deal" https://www.google.com/search?q=china+reneges+on+deal&oq=chi...
I linked actual, HUGE trade deals that were important, worth billions, and between 2 nations. You linked me to empty search results.
Find me a single example of Russia or China reneging on deals with the WTO or with massive trade agreements between the U.S. There is a huge, massive difference.
It's quite the reverse situation here: Facebook leaves India, India continue unfazed. India gets rid of facebook, the overvalued facebook shares will plummet because facebook future depends on its success in conquering new users.