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Facebook's Free Basics App Has Been Temporarily Banned in India (fastcompany.com) 75

An anonymous reader writes that Facebook's plan to provide Indians with free access to a number of chosen internet services has run into some big trouble. FC reports: "Indian telecom regulators have reportedly halted Facebook's "Free Basics" mobile Internet service, formerly known as Internet.org, over net neutrality concerns. The controversial program allows mobile customers free access to a limited set of Internet services, including certain online shopping, employment and health sites, Wikipedia and, naturally, Facebook itself. While Facebook has said the program offers limited Internet access to more than 1 billion people, those who might otherwise have none, it's come under fire from net neutrality activists and others in the industry who say it limits users to a walled garden populated solely by Facebook's partners.
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Facebook's Free Basics App Has Been Temporarily Banned in India

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  • Walls are free? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2015 @05:25PM (#51174933)
    I share concerns that such service violates Net Neutrality rules and imposes walled garden on its users. The fact that it is free is irrelevant, as the principle it violates has nothing to do with the cost.
    • So it is acceptable to you that the destitute of India get ZERO connectivity, as opposed to a free walled garden? On principle, of course.
      • Re:Walls are free? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2015 @05:37PM (#51174995)
        If I told you that you could live totally free of cost, but it would be in a prison, would you accept?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by sglewis100 ( 916818 )
          Me? No. Although it's a bad analogy (you can choose to stop using their app and get paid service). And also, yes, I believe there are some people who choose three free meals a day in prison over a life on the streets. I'm not saying there shouldn't be a better alternative for those people, but yes, some people would make that choice.
        • If I told you that you could live totally free of cost, but it would be in a prison, would you accept?

          If I had the choice to enter and leave the prison at will? I certainly don't see anyone claiming that once a person uses the plan they can never leave ...

          I mean, the salient thing about a prison isn't the lack of freedom to do what you will inside the prison, it's the fact that you can't leave of your own free will. If you can walk out at any time, it's just not a prison -- much the way this plan is not a prison, it's just a kind of not-nice-place.

        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          Man robs bank of $1 to get free health care in jail http://idle.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]

          Some people really do need help.

      • Re:Walls are free? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by xappax ( 876447 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2015 @05:56PM (#51175131)

        Facebook's scheme is analogous to giving people a Star Trek replicator that's been programmed to only produce heroin.

        One one hand, replicators are sweet and it's great to get them to more people. On the other hand, since these replicators are obviously just being handed out to get people hooked on heroin, I feel safe saying folks are better off with nothing.

        And by the way, how diabolical do you have to be to take a technology that's already, out of the box, capable of producing virtually anything, and deliberately restrict it to producing only your product?

        • well, as long as I'm one of the few that actually get a heroin-locked replicator, then I'm totally cool with that. Heroin is pretty expensive, and easy to move. In this case, there has got to be some bribes not spent to the correct TRAI people, and they're throwing a fit. Seems to be an unenforceable threat, since India has no Net Neutrality laws...not sure why Reliance actually backed down here.
      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        So it is acceptable to you that the destitute of India get ZERO connectivity, as opposed to a free walled garden?

        It's obviously not a "Free" walled garden. Whoever is paying the cost of the data is subsidizing those sites out of pocket.

        Can you provide a basis for allowing traffic to another provider to be free other than "That provider is financing the ISP in exchange for unfavorably preferable treatment" ?

    • I share concerns that such service violates Net Neutrality rules and imposes walled garden on its users. The fact that it is free is irrelevant, as the principle it violates has nothing to do with the cost.

      You are a moron!

      To access these services, one would STILL need some sort of Internet access, unless Facebook has suddenly decided to become a carrier in India. One would have to contact an Airtel or a Reliance or whatever, and either get a cellular service, or a broadband service from one of the providers. Once they get it, they get to access 'Free Basics'. In other words, 'Free Basics' is no different from any other free app already available in the online stores.

      Walled Garden only applies if Fac

    • The fact that it is free is irrelevant...

      There is no such thing as a free lunch, as they say; as a user, you pay many times over for this kind of 'free' by being exposed to adverts, having you every move tracked and your information sold off to unknown third parties. This sort of watering down the concept of what is 'free' is a bad thing - quite apart from the inevitable association with important ideas of freedom, it is simply a barefaced lie.

      • If they let two way flow of information, then it's (bit) okay. By two-way, you should be able to voice your opinion -- things like email, twitter, blogs. Else all they offer is like a TV where you are shoved with information (mostly ads, agenda-driven-info) which you can't truly choose. Anything that helps in free flow of information is good for all. Again unless you have freedom to access any site, the whole plan is like the private-media driven pre-internet days. Just to aid the powers that be to maintain
  • I'll take free Internet access even if it's based around Facebook's version of the web. You can still get things done, get email, etc. The government of India may be pandering to, or paid by, India's ISP's to bend to their will. The excuse about lack of net neutrality is nonsense. This seems to be the Facebook version of AOL, only without the floppy disks or $22 per month charge.
  • That runs on your phone? How did your phone get the app? How does the app reach the internet? Is this just a web browser? Do I live under a rock? (yes)
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Perhaps the phone got the app through the carrier's preload list, through some public Wi-Fi hotspot, or through a small download on pay-per-GB terms.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If it was really about helping people by providing online access, then the access would not be limited to specific web sites. The other sites are just the fig leaf for getting a billion people hooked on Facebook.

  • So companies that provide free shuttle bus service to their business or a set of businesses like a mall are somehow different than this?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is like having a bus route that can take you anywhere you want to go, but you're only allowed to get off at certain free stops unless you pay. The limitation is somewhere between arbitrary and anti-competitive.

  • Facebook is the new AOL, just worldwide.

  • > who say it limits users to a walled garden populated solely by Facebook's partners.

    It's interesting how socialist governments that specialize in forcing walled gardens of services, making illegal competition by the private sector, suddenly get bent out of shape over it when a private co.pany offers voluntary participation.

  • While I disagree with the walled garden, I wonder if the Indians will find workarounds. Perhaps they'll post news articles's text or send each other files through chat to spread information they would otherwise not have access to.
  • Get some India. I stand with you and admire your steadfast. I'm sure there are some /. users in India; Alexa confirms this, but not netcraft.
  • Quite bizarre, especially since there seems to be no actual Net Neutrality laws in India [wikipedia.org]. They've been talking about it recently quite a bit, yet TRAI has only a draft that they just recently stopped taking comments on. I'm surprised Reliance Communications didn't tell the TRAI to go shove off until the Indian Parliament actually has a law on the books. This would never happen in the US, just imagine AT&T actually stopping to do anything just because there MIGHT soon be a law against it.
    • Indian preamble has the word 'socialist'. It's not a nation of free-run capitalism. For all the bad mouthing by western media, the life condition of vast majority of the billion folks is fine .if not great. Hardly anyone worries about roof over their head or food on the table or getting medical help. It's not a land ruled only by money (hopefully it stays for a long time like that)

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