India: Facebook's Internet.org Or Net Neutrality - Choose Wisely, Act Wisely

INTRODUCTION

Recently, we all have witnessed the ray of tricolor profile pictures on the internet and especially on the most popular social networking site, Facebook. This practice started when Mark Zukerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc. changed his profile picture with overlying tri-colors resembling the Indian flag. The change of profile pictures was in support of making "Digital India" a term that sounds fascinating and catchy enough to attract the attention of any Indian citizen. Consequently, within 24 hours of the change of tricolor profile picture by Mark Zukerberg, the trend went viral and the internet was full of followers who did the same in order to show their support towards digital India. But, the question is how exactly the Facebook CEO actually planning to make India go digital? Answer is through "internet.org". This is a facebook's initiative and has already been a topic of huge hue and cry on grounds of being against net neutrality. Moving forward, for a better understanding of the debate this article will first discuss the basics of all these concepts in detail.

NET NEUTRALITY

The term "Net Neutrality" was first coined by the Professor Tim Wu who is a media law professor in University of Colombia. Net neutrality as a concept may be understood as treating all the data on the internet as equal. Net Neutrality or Net equality prohibits all the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and the governments from charging or treating variably for different data depending upon the contents, images, site platforms etc. It restricts any kind of discrimination that may be done by the ISPs and governments on the basis of the nature of contents provided by them. The idea behind this concept is that the contents on the internet should be treated equally and should be made easily accessible to all the individuals.

"INTERNET.ORG"- A FACEBOOK'S INITIATIVE

internet.org is a partnership between social networking services company, Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) that plans to bring affordable access to selected Internet services to less developed countries by increasing efficiency, and facilitating the development of new business models around the provision of Internet access.1 The first internet.org summit was held on 9 October 2014 in New Delhi, India. The primary objective of this summit was to bring together experts, officials and industry leaders to focus on ways to deliver more Internet services for people in languages other than English.

THE ON GOING CRITICISM OF INTERNET.ORG

Recently, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Facebook headquarters at Menlo Park, California, he discussed the concept of Digital India with the audience present there and the same gathered a lot of appraise and applaud from the rest of the world. However, it was said that in light of making a "Digital India", Facebook is trying to promote its own idea of intenet.org. It was even contended by many that each updated tricolor profile picture is a trick used by facebook and the same is counted as a vote in support of intenet.org, However, Facebook CEO later on clarified the same in his statement and mentioned that changing of tricolor profile pictures is nowhere related to voting in support of internet.org and is merely a way to show respect towards India and Indian National flag.

internet.org has been facing a lot of negativity as it is considered by many as a concept which is anti-net neutrality. The main point raised by the criticizers is that by bringing in Internet.org has been facing a lot of negativity as it is considered by many as a concept which is anti-net neutrality. The main point raised by the criticizers is that by bringing in internet.org, facebook is trying to create a monopoly in the market and promoting its own services amongst its rivals. It is alleged by many that Facebook is merely trying to allure the poor and under developed in order to maximize its own benefits. It is argued that with the advent of internet.org, the poor would have access only to  is merely trying to allure the poor and under developed in order to maximize its own benefits. It is argued that with the advent of internet.org, the poor would have access only to internet.org and they will be completely unaware about the vast internet that is out of the ambit of  is merely trying to allure the poor and under developed in order to maximize its own benefits. It is argued that with the advent of internet.org, the poor would have access only to internet.org and they will be completely unaware about the vast internet that is out of the ambit of internet.org. In this way, facebook will build a dominant position for itself and the poor and under trodden would be only exposed to a few no of websites that will be provided by internet.org. Also, when  will build a dominant position for itself and the poor and under trodden would be only exposed to a few no of websites that will be provided by internet.org. Also, when internet.org would be the only basic internet that would be available to a larger no of the population, the investors and promoters would also be interested in investing mainly on it. This would, have an adverse effect on the market and business of the other worldwide web.

The second issue of concern raised against internet.org is that through this, Facebook will have a control over the content and it can channelize the flow of information which goes through it. As, it would be covering a greater part of the population, a single entity having the rights to govern the information reaching them would be unfair and against public policy. After all the objections raised by the supporters of net neutrality, "internt.org" was also given a new name "free basic internet."

CONCLUSION

With the advent of technology and scientific developments, Internet has become a basic right and necessity of every human being. Although, the law nowhere expressly provides or mentions about the same, its importance and relevance in everyday life of the people cannot be overlooked. Therefore, net neutrality has to be maintained under all consequences. Supporters of both the ideas have there own valid arguments and like any other phenomenon, intenet.org also has its own pros and cons. On one hand, where the idea of net neutrality has to be protected and maintained so that the no single entity is given an enjoyable monopoly over others but on the other hand, we cannot completely overlook the fact that something is always better than nothing and through With the advent of technology and scientific developments, Internet has become a basic right and necessity of every human being. Although, the law nowhere expressly provides or mentions about the same, its importance and relevance in everyday life of the people cannot be overlooked. Therefore, net neutrality has to be maintained under all consequences. Supporters of both the ideas have there own valid arguments and like any other phenomenon, Intenet.org also has its own pros and cons. On one hand, where the idea of net neutrality has to be protected and maintained so that the no single entity is given an enjoyable monopoly over others but on the other hand, we cannot completely overlook the fact that something is always better than nothing and through internet.org at least the poor and under trodden would get something in the name of internet. However, the question still remains debatable and the people still need to ponder, discuss and gather complete information regarding the same and not merely changing their profile pictures ignorantly.

Footnote

1. "internet.org: About".

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