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Emailing TRAI in support of Free Basics

So by now we’re all aware of the basic idea of “Free basics” (mostly because of that incessant notification we get every time we go online: “Angel Heart and 50 others have sent an email to TRAI supporting net neutrality…you should do it too”). What most of us have done though, is click on ‘send’, just like we click on ‘I agree to the terms and conditions of this service” after carefully scrutinizing the content before agreeing to it. Right guys? *scoffs*
Let me tell you what “Free basics” is actually all about. Giving internet access to the less privileged people sounds very noble, and it would indeed be noble if that was the entire story; but, lo and behold, it is not. The Free Basics scheme is Facebook, and a group of other companies who have collaborated with the former, giving access only to their sites, free. This may seem completely harmless at the first glance but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll be able to see through the scheme. This proposal actually means that Facebook, a private company, gets to decide what comprises “basics” and what does not.
On Tuesday, sixty-four IIT professors stated in a statement that this Free Basics program by Facebook is neither free, nor basic. The statement went on to say, “”If Facebook gets to decide what costs how much, in effect Indians will be surrendering their digital freedom, and freedom in the digital economy, to Facebook. So this is not an issue of elite Indians able to pay for the Internet versus poor Indians, as Facebook is trying to portray. It is an issue of whether all Indians want to surrender their digital freedom to Facebook.”The security of the data stored is another major concerned raised by the statement from these professors.
So before we become oh-so-generous and concerned about the poor people of the country getting access to the internet, let us at least know about the scheme in its entirety and be well informed before committing to send an email to TRAI supporting the same, probably only because our crush on Facebook sent it too.


content by: Trisha Mandal
image courtesy: Google
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Editorial Team of LaughaLaughi