Facebook's Zuckerberg urges free Internet in India amid row

New Delhi -- Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg urged India Monday to approve a controversial plan that would provide a free Internet service to the poor, his latest bid amid an escalating row with authorities.

See Full Article

The head of the social network tried to drum up support for the Free Basics service that offers people without the Internet free access to a handful of websites through mobile phones, in a column in the largest-selling English daily The Times of India.

"If we accept that everyone deserves access to the Internet, then we must surely support free basic Internet services," the chief executive wrote, comparing the Internet to a library, public health care and education.

"Surprisingly, over the last year there's been a big debate about this in India," he added.

"Instead of wanting to give people free access to basic Internet services, critics of the programme continue to spread false claims -- even if that means leaving behind a billion people."

Zuckerberg's personal appeal comes amid fierce criticism from net neutrality activists who say his plan violates the principle that the whole Internet should be available to all and unrestricted by any one company.

Earlier this month the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ordered Reliance Communications, the sole mobile operator for the service, to suspend it temporarily without giving a reason, documents seen by AFP show.

Some 3.2 million people have petitioned India's telecoms regulator not to ban Free Basics, formerly named Internet.org. It launched nationwide last month after being trialled in several states.

Several prominent Indian entrepreneurs and members of the tech community have spoken out against Free Basics, arguing that even for poor citizens, no Internet is better than a hand-picked and corporate-controlled web offering.

But in an attempt to counter claims "that this will make Internet more like a walled garden", Facebook has taken out billboards and full-page newspaper adverts defending the initiative.

Free Basics is "at risk of being banned" in India, Facebook said in the adverts, adding that the service aims to help a billion unconnected Indians -- mostly living in poor rural areas -- to get online.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Japan's Nikon sues ASML, Zeiss over chip-making technology

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO -- Nikon Corp. said Monday it has taken legal action in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan over the use of semiconductor lithography technology in products made by Dutch and German companies. Nikon said it is seeking to stop Dutch company ASML Holding N.V. Source
  • Wax worm has an appetite for plastic, researchers discover

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Spanish researchers have discovered that a worm often found in beehives is also capable of breaking down one of the most common forms of plastic. Research scientist Federica Bertocchini, who works for the Spanish National Research Council, has discovered that wax worms are capable of biodegrading polyethylene, the tough stretchy plastic used to make shopping bags, plastic wrap and other things. Source
  • Meet the 17 finalists who could become Canada's next astronauts

    Tech & Science CTV News
    There’s a test pilot with the Department of National Defence, an astronomical optics scientist, a family physician and an engineer working at the German Aerospace Centre. Those are just a few of the highly-educated and skilled finalists who remain in the running to become Canada’s next astronauts. Source
  • Samsung's S8 phones more prone to screen cracks, study finds

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Samsung's latest phones feature big wraparound screens and lots of glass. SquareTrade, a company that sells gadget-repair plans, says the phones also appear to break more easily. The nearly all-glass design of Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus makes them beautiful, SquareTrade says, but also "extremely susceptible to cracking when dropped from any angle. Source
  • Trump calls U.S. astronaut who broke record for time in space

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- U.S. President Donald Trump made a very long distance phone call to the International Space Station, to congratulate its commander on breaking the record for the most time spent in space of any American astronaut. Source
  • Ancient methane 'burp' points to climate change 110 million years ago

    Tech & Science CBC News
    New research suggests a large amount of methane was released in the Arctic Ocean during a period of warming 110 million years ago and the methane "burp" points to the possibility of a similar release in today's warming conditions. Source
  • Taiwan's 'hacker minister' reshaping digital democracy

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Taiwan's "digital minister" Audrey Tang, a computer prodigy and entrepreneur who taught herself programming at age 8, says she's a "civic hacker," who like a locksmith uses specialized skills to help rather than harm. Source
  • Soil your undies, literally: eco group

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Normally most folks would want to keep their white underwear, well, white — but a new campaign is challenging that custom and hopes to see gitch soiled.'Soil your undies' to test the quality of your soil"It's not just a fun activity. Source
  • Whale and boat collisions may be more common than previously thought: U.S. study

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PORTLAND, Maine -- A group of marine scientists says collisions of whales and boats off of the New England coast may be more common than previously thought. The scientists focused on the humpback whale population in the southern Gulf of Maine, a body of water off of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Source
  • Ontario city to turn dog poop into energy and fertilizer through pilot program

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WATERLOO, Ont. -- The Ontario city best known for headquartering BlackBerry may soon be known for an entirely different commodity -- dog poop. Waterloo will soon be the home of a pilot program that will turn dog waste into energy, using a process called anaerobic digestion that happens when organic waste breaks down in an environment without oxygen. Source