And then there’s Free Basics, the two-year-old project Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has called an online 911. In about three dozen developing countries so far, Free Basics—also known as Internet.org—includes a stripped-down version of Facebook and a handful of sites that provide news, weather, nearby health-care options, and other info. One or two carriers in a given country offer the package for free at slow speeds, betting that it will help attract new customers who’ll later upgrade to pricier data plans…
Facebook says Free Basics is meant to make the world more open and connected, not to boost the company’s growth….On Dec. 21, 2016, the Indian government suspended the program, offered in the country by carrier Reliance Communications….
“Who could possibly be against this?”
Opponents, including some journalists and businesspeople, say Free Basics is dangerous because it fundamentally changes the online economy. If companies are allowed to buy preferential treatment from carriers, the Internet is no longer a level playing field, says Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Indian mobile-payment company Paytm....“We don’t see Free Basics as philanthropy. We see it as a land grab,” says Pahwa.
[On Feb. 8, 2016, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ruled against Facebook’s scheme.]
Adi Narayan, Facebook’s Fight to Be Free, Bloomberg Business Week, Jan. 14, 2016