Zuckerberg’s initiative Internet.org has posed a great threat to net neutrality in India. On the surface it comes with good intentions, but this is a clever business strategy wrapped in humanitarian honey. It’s a digital quota system favouring only 38 websites.
Let’s check the package. Websites like Facebook and Bing are included in it. Is Facebook a necessity of the wanting people in India? Is Bing a more superior search engine to Google? How about Reliance Astrology and Girl Effect? Are these websites you would need to visit regularly? Are any of these websites capable of contributing to the development of a country? Therein lies the horrible discrimination which is neither by merit nor by necessity.
The internet is infinitely larger than a package of 38 websites. It’s growing. What’s the measure or definition of need of Indian people? Let’s take students for example. Wouldn’t they need access to websites of foreign universities like Oxford or Stanford for reference? Why would they want to pay for that and not for Reliance Astrology?
Airtel and Reliance are the notable organizations willing to join the party. Why don’t they connect wanting primary schools in rural areas with broadband at discounted charge? Why don’t they collaborate with the governments to provide discounted WiFi at public places? No, that number 38 will never grow to 1% of the internet. This is business.
If you are curious how other countries are reacting, on February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission in the US ruled in favour of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996.
Net neutrality is your freedom to choose which websites you would visit. Net neutrality means every website gets the equal opportunity to be visited. Do not throw these away. Do not trap yourself in the illusion of a 38-website closed internet.