Following the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) recommendations on net neutrality, Facebook has defended its Internet.org as a “platform to promote an internet access model that is open and non-exclusive”.
Kevin Martin, Vice-President for Mobile and Global Access Policy at Facebook, said the preservation of the core principles of net neutrality and the promotion of innovation and infrastructure within the context of India’s Internet access challenges are critical to bringing more people online.
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“As recognised in today’s report, we introduced the Internet.org platform to promote an Internet access model that is open and non-exclusive. Internet.org acts as a gateway, as opposed to a gatekeeper, to Internet access by breaking down the cost, infrastructure and social barriers that exist today.”
Martin said Facebook welcomes the DoT’s engagement and consultation process and are committed to working with all stakeholders to overcome the infrastructure, affordability and social barriers that exist today and to bring more people in India online.
Facebook reiterated that Internet.org is not exclusive to one operator. “Developers don’t pay the operator or Facebook to be a part of Internet.org. Equally, people who use Internet.org also have choice over the free basic services they can use and can search through a variety of services to add the ones they are most interested in to their homepage.”
A note from the social media platform said it firmly believes we need to give people access to some sites in order to show them how they can use the broader internet to improve their lives. “Infrastructure and affordability are two of the barriers to achieving connectivity at scale in India, but the third, and potentially greatest hurdle, is the social and educational challenge, whereby the majority of people aren’t sure what the internet is or what they can use it for.”