Warp Speed

Mark Zuckerberg is in India to kill the internet, make no mistake

Internet.org basically breaks net neutrality.

 |  Warp Speed  |  3-minute read |   28-10-2015
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This visit is not about an ashram or finding inner peace. Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is coming to India for one sole reason - to push the agenda of free basics, much to the chagrin of IT heads, which he describes as "Internet.Org".

Critics claim that Internet.Org strikes a dagger straight into the heart of the very fabric of the World Wide Web as we know it. They say it breaks the sanctity of net neutrality. The idea that everything on the internet should be offered to everyone in an equal way.

If you Google the term, you will find a more elaborate and sophisticated definition: "The principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites."

Also read: The day I met Mark Zuckerberg

Internet.org basically breaks net neutrality by offering certain services (apps), which Facebook describes as "free basics for free", while other service prviders will be charged for it.

Here's what makes it a potentially a brilliant but manipulative move.

Say tomorrow, if a new social network comes up and has the potential to usurp Facebook, it will never get the opportunity because Facebook will now be available to all for free, while the rest of the people will need to pay for data for anything that competes with it.

Earlier in the year, multiple media houses tied up with Internet.org, but after a massive furore was created over Airtel breaking net neutrality rules with its "Zero" programme, all of them had to take to a step back, to not invite the same scrutiny.

Mark Zuckerberg is here to host a Town Hall session at IIT Delhi, the breeding ground for India's brightest engineers, and he's sure to riff on how Facebook will be "providing free connectivity to rural parts of the country, helping educate people as they get access to essential services and websites..."

Don't be fooled by this.

Also read: Why Facebook needs a 'ban' button in Digital India

Facebook is right now battling with Google to take control of the internet. It has designs that one day people will use Facebook for everything, not just social networking. It wants Facebook to be the gateway to the World Wide Web, just the way Google search has been.

For the same, it is now boldly makes two billion posts public, which also includes things shared with friends of friends searchable. All this while it is dabbling with drones to provide cheap internet to unconnected parts of the word, just like Google's Project Loon, which strives to do the same with balloons.

This a battle to become the new internet - it ends the free nature of things Sir Tim Berners Lee invented 26 years ago out of CERN on a computer made by the company Steve Jobs founded after being ousted from Apple.

If you don't believe me, read what the guy who invented the World Wide Web, Mr Lee, had to say in the Guardian, earlier this month: 

"When it comes to compromising on net neutrality, I tend to say just say no. In the particular case of somebody who's offering... Something which is branded internet, it's not internet, then you just say no. No it isn't free, no it isn't in the public domain, there are other ways of reducing the price of internet connectivity and giving something... (only) giving people data connectivity to part of the network deliberately, I think is a step backwards."

Need I say more?

Also read: Why Facebook and Google are in Digital India

Writer

Sahil Mohan Gupta Sahil Mohan Gupta @digitallybones

Assistant Editor @IndiaToday | Star Trek Nerd | Master of 16 dogs | Blues Guitarist | connoisseur of the finer spirits | Tech journalist | Views are my own

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