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  1. #1
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    [EN] 'Free Basics' Internet service



    Dec 29 2015

    Facebook has launched a major charm offensive in India as its ‘free basics’ internet service – formerly called Internet.org – faces an impending regulatory ruling on whether or not it violates net neutrality.

    Free Basics is Facebook’s attempt to get the next billion people in underprivileged nations online. It takes the form of an app on users’ mobile phones through which “free basic” internet services can be accessed – with the data costs picked up by local telco partners.

    But critics of the service claim it creates a “two-tier internet” and may violate net neutrality by treating internet users differently in what they can and can’t see.

    A number of partners to Facebook’s program in India withdrew earlier this year over such concerns, according to MIT Technology Review.

    Now, Facebook’s last remaining telco partner in India has been told by regulators to temporarily halt the service until it rules on the issue of net neutrality.

    That freeze – announced just before Christmas – has led to a major increase in lobbying efforts by Facebook ahead of the regulator’s decision.

    The web giant took out large newspaper ads to defend its service and conducted a Reddit AMA with Internet.org vice president Chris Daniels on the “holiday weekend”.

    Now, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has weighed in with an op-ed in the Times of India, where he compares Facebook’s ‘free basics’ service to public library and healthcare services.

    “We have collections of free basic books. They’re called libraries. They don’t contain every book, but they still provide a world of good,” Zuckerberg wrote.

    “We have free basic healthcare. Public hospitals don’t offer every treatment, but they still save lives.”

    Likewise, he said free basic internet services could lift people from poverty and help close the digital divide.

    Zuckerberg also urged India’s telco regulator to “choose facts over false claims” when it came to whether or not ‘free basics’ violated net neutrality.

    He said the company’s service wasn’t about pushing “Facebook’s commercial interests”.

    “There aren’t even any ads in the version of Facebook in Free Basics,” he said.

    “If people lose access to free basic services they will simply lose access to the opportunities offered by the internet today.”

    A decision by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is expected in “early January”, according to WSJ.
    http://www.itnews.com.au/news/facebo...n-india-413267
    Última edição por 5ms; 29-12-2015 às 10:47.

  2. #2
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    India deals blow to Facebook's Free Basics in 'net neutrality' row

    Indian regulator outlaws differential pricing for data packages, blocking Facebook service that offered a restricted Internet free to some mobile users

    Agence France-Presse
    Monday 8 February 2016

    India’s telecom regulator has blocked Facebook’s controversial Free Basics internet service by ruling in favour of “net neutrality” by outlawing differential pricing for data packages.

    Facebook has met a backlash in India from net neutrality advocates, who say that because the Free Basics mobile service only allows access to selected websites it violates the principle that the entire internet should be available to everyone on equal terms.

    While not ruling explicitly on net neutrality, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India decided not to allow what it called “discriminatory pricing” for different data platforms or content.

    The ruling suggests that Free Basics, which was aimed primarily at people in poor rural areas, will not be allowed to continue in its current form.

    “TRAI has today issued the ‘Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016’ that disallow service providers to offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content being accessed by a consumer,” Sudhir Gupta, TRAI secretary, said in a statement.

    “While formulating the regulations, the authority has largely been guided by the principles of net neutrality seeking to ensure that consumers get unhindered and non-discriminatory access to the internet,” Gupta said.

    The policy may be reviewed every two years or sooner, TRAI said.

    Critics of Free Basics, which had been suspended temporarily while the regulator’s consultation was ongoing, include many of India’s leading technology entrepreneurs.

    India’s 1.3 billion people make it a vitally important market for Facebook, which is still locked out of China, with the second biggest number of users outside of the United States.
    http://www.theguardian.com/technolog...neutrality-row

  3. #3
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    "Free Basics, which was aimed primarily at people in poor rural areas"

    70% da população da India vive em área rural.

  4. #4
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    Nothing Is Free, Not Even Facebook Free Basics

    Om Malik

    The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has given Facebook’s Free Basics (a cutely rebranded Internet.org) a big thumbs-down, according to reports.

    The opposition from all quarters led to the decision by local regulators. “This can prove to be risky in the medium to long term as the knowledge and outlook of those users would be shaped only by the information made available through those select offerings,” the agency wrote.

    Today in a report, The New York Times wrote, “Facebook spent millions of dollars on advertising to promote its position and ran special banners in the news feeds of Indian users urging them to petition the government to allow Free Basics.” It is a setback for Mark Zuckerberg and the company, which has been working hard to win over India.

    Much of the opposition to Facebook’s Internet.org/Free Basics has been framed around the net neutrality debate. But to me the problem is rooted in the idea of Data Darwinism, where data owners shape the narrative and make decisions that leave millions out of control of their own destiny.

    My opposition to Internet.org is not recent: Ever since it was announced, I have denounced its duplicitous name. Facebook still calls its efforts Internet.org across most of the world and paints it as a not-for-profit effort. I disagree with two points:

    • Internet.org isn’t about the internet, so Facebook should stop calling it as such and call it what it is: Facebook Free (with strings attached). To call it Internet.org is actually the first sin of this whole debacle.
    • Facebook Free Basics isn’t a charity. People will pay for it with their data. It is a way for Facebook to gather more attention and sell services and advertising to those who get Facebook’s Free Basics.


    Maybe I’m suspicious because my family has told me their personal story of the British Raj or maybe because I have read books that over and again detail how a commercial spearhead (The East India Company) came bearing gifts and then became a symbol of British imperialism. Regardless, I am suspicious of any for-profit company arguing its good intentions and its free gifts. Nothing — and I do mean nothing — in this life is free. You always pay a price.

    It is hard to tell whether money or politics come first, but either way they are intertwined. During industrialization, the two key commodities for economic growth were labor and actual commodities. The British Empire became dominant because it mastered mass production and consumption as well as controlling commodities. And it started with The East India Company. The subjugation of the Indian subcontinent was part of industrialization. In the 20th century, petroleum shaped the political narrative; in this new century, “attention” shapes politics. That is why we have to look at this issue of Internet.org from a cultural standpoint.

    In our post-internet age, labor and commodities have been replaced by attention and connectivity. By controlling these, Facebook in many ways has its algorithm decide what is important in the future. I am positive that its role as a gatekeeper of information will cause much deeper problems in the long term.

    In a more draconian scenario, it isn’t hard to imagine Facebook helping sway the outcome of elections. In the U.S., election-spending and Facebook are a potent mix, as we are made aware every day. In emerging economies, where money has an outsize influence on election results, can Facebook stand up and say no to dollars? Can it say no to money — anyone’s money, for that matter — if its overall growth starts to stall?

    Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg or other senior executives have never discussed with me the responsibility and transparency of their algorithms from a social and cultural standpoint. What are the things he and Facebook won’t do? Will they open up access to everyone, including rivals, to offer services on their platform, and will they offer an equal, bidirectional exchange of data to one and all under the mandates of open source? Can they promise that they won’t use the information for targeting and advertising purposes?

    Up until then, from my perspective, Free Basics/Internet.org is all about advertising and making money. Today and tomorrow, Facebook will make decisions based on how it makes or will make money. That is what for-profit corporations do.

    http://om.co/2016/02/08/nothing-is-f...k-free-basics/
    Última edição por 5ms; 09-02-2016 às 23:32.

  5. #5
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    Marc Andreessen's 'colonialism' gaffe? A symptom of Silicon Valley bias

    Facebook board member Marc Andreessen’s offensive remarks about India on Twitter hint at an out-of-touch tech elite

    Nellie Bowles
    Friday 12 February 2016

    After an irate Facebook board member wrote that India is better off under colonialism, many in Silicon Valley’s large and influential Indian population were offended.

    “People like [Facebook board member] Marc Andreessen are speaking from places of such massive privilege and are still so massively wrong,” said Rohit Sharma, a venture capitalist with True Ventures, which has raised $878m. “Someone in India’s needs are just the same as someone in San Francisco. How dare you imply otherwise? No.”

    On 8 February, India’s telecoms regulator blocked services such as Facebook’s Free Basics, a scheme to offer a small selection of low-bandwidth apps for free to users in the developing world. Net neutrality campaigners have opposed the service, which already operates in 16 other countries, because they say Facebook and its telecoms partners have too much control over which apps can be included, and should not be given what is effectively priority access to a developing market.

    The general argument for it in Silicon Valley has been that, yes, it comes with potentially unsavory strings attached, but it’s free, and it’s better than nothing.

    When the news came that India had rejected Facebook, board member and investor Andreessen tweeted the missive that echoed around the world: “Anti-Colonialism has been economically catastrophic for India for decades. Why stop now?”

    One sunny San Francisco day later – after Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was forced to publicly disavow the tweet – Sharma was calling in on Arvind Gupta, who invests in and guides a group of early stage startups at his accelerator IndieBio. Their conversation quickly shifted to Free Basics and Andreessen’s message.

    Gupta said he felt Facebook’s stumble was partly due to distance and being out of touch with Indian people.

    “It’s easy to think this is a good idea 5,000 miles away in your nice apartment,” Gupta said.

    Sharma saw it as part of a broader issue of homogeneity in Silicon Valley, a region run by a narrow set of oligarchs who famously eschew hiring women or people of color.

    “Why is the Valley suddenly so tone deaf? Well, look how badly the Valley does on inclusion in hiring. Bias is the norm here,” Sharma said. “Why is the Indian user any less capable than anyone else? Why do they have different needs than you do? They don’t. But that thinking is all part of the same problem.”

    Some Indian leaders in Silicon Valley, though, argue that too much is being made of Andreessen’s comment.

    Venky Ganesan, managing director of local investment firm Menlo Ventures, said that Free Basics could seem quite a bit like colonialism: a gift in exchange for some of your freedom.

    “The historical dimension that most American companies might not fully appreciate is that Indian schoolchildren, including me when I grew up, are taught that the colonization of India started with the East India Company coming to trade,” Ganesan said. “Culturally, Indians tend to be very wary of strangers bringing gifts in the guise of trade.”

    But Ganesan felt the international outrage to Andreessen’s message was overblown: “Honestly the reaction to Marc’s tweets is a tempest in a teapot ... People need to relax.”

    “Facebook was trying to provide free access to content to the poor in India in a manner that both benefited them and the poor,” Ganesan wrote. “Is some access better than no access? That’s the question.”

    And, in a way, much of Silicon Valley is a form of colonialism. Facebook, Twitter, Google and the rest offer a free service in exchange for control. Resistance becomes more difficult than assimilation, and so the trade doesn’t seem too bad.

    Nor are Facebook’s efforts historically unique in western dealings with India, writes historian David Arnold in his book on the topic: “Faith in Britain’s capacity to modernize and civilize India was always fraught with multiple contradictions, among them a recurrent belief that Indians were unready (or unfit) to receive the benefits of scientific modernity, a determination to deny India the competitive advantages that full access to modern science and technology might entail, and a romantically tinged anti-industrialism, in which India was destined to remain a land of princes, peasants and artisans, spared the ugliness and turmoil of modern industrial society.”

    Back at IndieBio, an industrial office space with a high-end research lab in the basement and, upstairs, some leftover snacks and name tags from an earlier party, Sharma and Gupta agreed Facebook was fighting a losing battle.

    In the early days of the Internet in America, telecommunications companies like AT&T tried to create walled internets in the US, too, Gupta recalled, adding that he worked on some of them and that the strategy obviously hadn’t worked.

    Sharma said this would set India and Silicon Valley relations back.

    “I know the entire Facebook team behind this. I know their intention, but why do this?” Sharma wondered. “It’s not like the companies in India are saints, but we’re just beginning to step out of that. And now this privileged set of assumptions that oh the poor need this, the poor should be happy with this, it’s set us all back by years.”

    Andreessen, whose venture capital firm has invested $4.3bn in companies like Airbnb and Skype and may be the most powerful investment group in the valley, stirred controversy in the fall when a seemingly-arbitrary group of women and people of color realized he had “blocked” them on Twitter, or made it so they couldn’t read his messages.

    “Has Marc blocked you yet?” Sharma asked. “He’s blocked me.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/technolog...facebook-india

  6. #6
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    Facebook India’s managing director Kirthiga Reddy resigns

    Move follows a disastrous week for Facebook during which its free Internet service was blocked in India and a board member praised colonialism.


    Nellie Bowles
    Friday 12 February 2016



    Facebook India’s managing director Kirthiga Reddy has announced she will be stepping down after six years and moving back to the US.

    The announcement follows an embarrassing week for the internet firm and its effort to grow its audience in a key developing market of 1.25 billion people.

    Reddy said in a post on Facebook that she will be returning to the US with her family in the next six to 12 months as part of a “natural transition” for her school-age children, describing the move as “bittersweet”.

    “I’m grateful to have two countries to call ‘home,’ have had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and look forward to the next one, and have the opportunity to partner with each of you,” Reddy wrote in the post.

    Reddy’s announcement comes days after Facebook’s limited free internet program was rejected by India’s telecom regulator, which barred companies from charging different rates for internet access based on content.

    The Indian launch of Free Basics, Facebook’s free internet service for selected developing countries, has been a rare public debacle for the social networking firm.

    On 9 February, a Facebook board member posted that India was better under colonialism and ought to be happy to have Facebook’s internet, even if there’s potential for Facebook to exert undue control over what users can access.

    The reaction among Silicon Valley’s Indian community has been swift, denouncing the comments and Facebook’s Free Basics efforts as demeaning.

    “People like [Facebook board member] Marc Andreessen are speaking from places of such massive privilege and are still so massively wrong,” said Rohit Sharma, a venture capitalist with True Ventures, which has raised $878m. “Someone in India’s needs are just the same as someone in San Francisco. How dare you imply otherwise? No.”

    Mark Zuckerberg – who rarely dives into controversy – posted a note to his Facebook page distancing himself from the board member. Andreessen apologized several times and has not tweeted in the days since, rare for the voluble venture capitalist.

    Neither Reddy nor Facebook returned a request for comment.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technolog...-reddy-resigns

  7. #7
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    ‘Digital Colonialism’

    A big chunk of the world is cheering the fact that India was gutsy enough to shut down Facebook’s “Free Basics,” because even the poor can recognize corporate digital colonialism.

    Chriss W. Street
    15 Feb 2016

    Facebook launched its Free Basics/Internet.org in more than 35 countries as a supposedly free way to obtain access to data for 5 billion poor people who currently have no Internet access. But the product only allowed access to Facebook and a few other “pet” sites in a “walled garden,” TechCrunch notes.

    The product created a backlash among local Indian entrepreneurs, who felt that the service institutionalized an uneven playing field for Internet service providers who were denied the right to join. Facebook retaliated by reportedly spending $44 million on a PR campaign supporting Free Basics and demeaning the local activists.

    After months of bitter protests that the Facebook opponents referred to as the modern “Quit India,” in celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts to expel the British in 1942, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India suspended the free Facebook service in December.

    Six weeks later, on February 8, the regulators imposed the type of net neutrality Facebook aggressively lobbied for and won in the U.S. to prevent telecommunications companies from charge discriminatory pricing for different Web services. The move essentially killed Free Basics’ business model, which was all about creating a monopoly.

    Meanwhile, the European Commission’s investigation of Facebook is providing an excellent window into just how insidious Facebook’s business model has become. Facebook uses sophisticated algorithms to “eavesdrop” on its users, no matter what the privacy settings are. Information extracted focuses on the users’ political opinions, sexuality, religious beliefs, income and whereabouts.

    Most users know that Facebook develops and maintains sophisticated internal profiles of users based on the comments they make on social media and the posts that they “like” within its social network. But what few are aware of is Facebook’s use of “plug-ins” that integrate Facebook features on third-party websites for the company to eavesdrop outside of the Facebook site.

    To maximize its ability to tie data-mining information to each specific individual, Facebook has also required a “real-name” policy since its implementation. The policy requires users to create real profiles in order to “help keep our community safe.”

    But a critical article in the Washington Times suggests that the “real-name” policy has also made the Facebook community unsafe for some users. The company claims to be implementing changes to address these concerns, but tech analysts believe selling that type of data to advertisers is what makes Facebook profitable.

    Facebook was forced by the EU regulators to admit that they are tracking people on other websites. If a Facebook user researches a new television on an external website or inside of a mobile app, his or her profile is tagged for advertisers to know that a user on another site has indicated an interest in televisions and in electronics. Facebook then sells the data to advertisers pitching electronic devices that want to reach a Facebook user.

    But the European Community regulators consider that a violation of privacy rights, since the Facebook user never agreed to allow the company to follow him or her to another site. A new EC Directive was issued in January, just before the Indian regulator’s move, that will ban such targeted advertising unless a user has specifically agreed to allow it.

    Despite Facebook already having 132 million of the 252 million Indian monthly active users in late 2015, Board member Mark Andreessen was so angry over having the government tell him what he could or could not do, he tweeted sarcastically, “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”

    The colonialist comment caused a firestorm of protests across India.

    I apologize for any offense caused by my earlier tweet about Indian history and politics. I admire India and the Indian people enormously.

    — Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) February 10, 2016

    Eventually, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was forced to disown the racial statement with a public apology.
    http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywo...e-colonialism/

  8. #8
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    “Any idea that Internet access itself decreases poverty is deeply flawed”

    The United States has gone through a golden Internet age, its poverty rate hasn’t declined


    By Matt McFarland | The Washington Post

    Why Facebook’s push to end poverty is actually self-serving

    Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wants to end poverty, but lately his approach is coming under fire.

    He’s called lifting 400 million out of poverty “perhaps one of the greatest things we can do in the world.” Zuckerberg regularly says that for every 10 people who gain Internet access, one person is raised out of poverty. Facebook launched Internet.org to seize these huge benefits for humanity.

    Yet some experts say Zuckerberg is wrong. There’s no proof that giving Internet access to a person raises them from poverty. They say Facebook’s efforts to connect the developing world smell of colonialism and will ultimately serve Facebook’s long-term business interests.

    “Here’s a large American company coming into India and appearing to try to have its way to gain eyeballs for what is ultimately a company that sells eyeballs to advertisers,” said Kentaro Toyama, a Michigan professor and author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. “It looks like digital colonialism.”

    He also rejects Zuckerberg’s claim about the benefits of providing access.

    “Any idea that Internet access itself decreases poverty is deeply flawed,” Toyama said. He noted that as the United States has gone through a golden Internet age, its poverty rate hasn’t declined.

    While there’s some anecdotal evidence pointing to the positive effects of Internet access for the poor, information on the long-term effects is “sketchy,” according to Johannes Bauer, chair of Michigan State’s department of media and information.

    “The bigger challenge of really lifting people out of lasting poverty, that’s a more complicated policy that’s not simply addressed by providing access,” Bauer said.

    The ONE Campaign, which aims to fight global poverty, acknowledges that the evidence is anecdotal and predictive.

    “Much of the push for Internet access by anti-poverty activists is based on what we’re seeing firsthand,” said Tom Hart, executive director for North America of the ONE Campaign. His group is involved in efforts to spread Internet access.

    Facebook points to a 2014 study that claimed expanding Internet access could lift 160 million people out of poverty, due to expected changes in productivity, employment and economic growth. Facebook paid Deloitte to conduct the report, which is the source of Zuckerberg’s often repeated stat that giving 10 people Internet access lifts one from poverty.

    At a Facebook event in June 2015, Zuckerberg took that math to the extreme and said that connecting 4 billion people in the world would potentially raise 400 million people out of poverty.

    A debate over tech companies such as Facebook donating Internet access in developing nations roared to life this week after India’s government banned Facebook’s Free Basics, which provided limited Internet access.

    Facebook board member Marc Andreessen later tweeted, “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?” Andreessen later apologized and said he is “100 percent opposed to colonialism.”

    Zuckerberg responded, saying Andreessen’s allusion to colonialism doesn’t reflect how Facebook or he thinks. But for many, the altruistic talk covers up a savvy business move.

    If Facebook can hook new Internet users early, it stands to gain from network effects, in which businesses with the most participants become exponentially more valuable. The effects are especially profound for digital businesses such as Facebook’s.

    “Facebook shouldn’t be talking about this as a charitable effort, but as a market development effort,” said Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT.

    Since 2012, Facebook has quadrupled the average revenue per user in developing regions it labels as “rest of world.” At $1.22 per person, it’s still small compared to what Facebook makes elsewhere, but experts say the market may grow increasingly lucrative.

    Facebook’s efforts have been so successful that in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, more people report using Facebook than the Internet, apparently unaware that Facebook runs on the Internet.

    “In the old days it was a very blatantly aggressive and exploitative type of colonialism, based on views that you’re dealing with inferior cultures,” Bauer said. “Now it’s a digitally mediated, capitalist type of colonialism.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...whom-you-think
    Última edição por 5ms; 21-02-2016 às 16:23.

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