Business, News

Mark Zuckerberg Urges India To Approve Free Internet Plan

New Delhi (AFP) – 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.

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.

Read More...

Life Hack, News

Zuckerberg: Muslims Will Always Be Welcome On Facebook

Zuckerberg today came out in support of Muslims through a Facebook post which went viral. The following is his message

Mark Zukerberg

Zuckerberg has said that “the hate of some can make it easy to succumb to cynicism” but insists “we must not lose hope”. Facebook for a long time has received criticism for choking freedom of speech by siding with local censorship laws in certain Islamic countries in the Middle East. Though advocates of free speech want Facebook to simply refuse to operate in those Islamic countries, Zuckerberg counters it by saying:

A government passing a law that you can’t say something is one barrier against people having a voice. We try to push back whenever we get requests to block something.

Continuing to operate can help the country in other ways, such as allowing people to connect with loved ones, learn, and find jobs. So I think overwhelmingly our responsibility is to continue operating.

Read More...