Opposition against Internet.org growing

According to Facebook, Internet.org intends to bring internet services to areas that are still unconnected.

Updated - November 17, 2021 01:59 am IST

Published - May 19, 2015 11:53 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Amid growing criticism for Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, 67 Internet activists group have written an open letter to the founder of social networking site Mark Zuckerberg, saying it violates principles of net neutrality and is a threat to freedom of expression.

Signatories to the letter include groups from India, Colombia, Netherlands, U.S., Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Pakistan, Germany, Uganda, Indonesia, Austria, Iceland, Africa and South Korea.

The letter states that the model, on which Internet.org is based, is ‘inherently discriminatory’ and is banned or restricted in countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Chile. Zero rating agreements, the letter said, endangers freedom of expression and equality of opportunity by letting service providers decide which Internet services will be privileged over others, thus interfering with the free flow of information and people's rights vis-a-vis networks.

The letter concludes saying, Facebook, in its stated intentions to connect billions to the Internet, should strongly support and advocate for safeguarding the principle of net neutrality, privacy, security and other user rights in its discussions with national governments and regulators, while also applying these standards to its business initiatives.”

This open letter was drafted by the people at  thisisnetneutrality.org, which is a global coalition for net neutrality. “SaveTheInternet was invited to join, and we did," a member of Savetheinternet told The Hindu.

According to Facebook, Internet.org intends to bring internet services to areas that are still not connected. In India, it partnered with Reliance Communications to provide free access to over 30 websites. However, post the debate over it violating principles of Net Neutrality, sites such as Cleartrip, NDTV and Times Group exited Internet.org. “It is our belief that Facebook is improperly defining net neutrality in public statements and building a walled garden in which the world’s poorest people will only be able to access a limited set of insecure websites and services,” the letter said.

The groups expressed concerns that Internet.org has been misleadingly marketed as providing access to the full Internet, when in fact it only provides access to a limited number of Internet-connected services that are approved by Facebook and local ISPs. “In its present conception, Internet.org thereby violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy and innovation,” they added. However, Mr. Zuckerberg has maintained that Internet.org can coexist with Net Neutrality.

On this, the letter pointed out, “In a May 4 video, you announced new rules pertaining to Internet.org and argued that net neutrality and Internet.org are not in conflict. However, on the accompanying website, the new rules explicitly state that ‘websites must be properly integrated with Internet.org to allow zero rating’.”

Zero rating is the practice where customers are offered a specific set of services or applications that are free to use without a data plan, and is seen as violating Net Neutrality.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.