It looks like Facebook’s ambitious free internet-providing Internet.org program isn’t going quite as smoothly as it would’ve initially hoped for. Already controversial for violating the principles of net neutrality, Egypt too has banned the service from the country.
Details About the Facebook Service
Free Basics, as the revamped app is now called had been available to the three million users of the country for about two months or so. It is not quite told officially what went wrong there.
The service is credited with bringing 1 million previously unconnected people to the fray in the country with its partnership with Etisalat Egypt. According to a recent statement by Facebook, ‘it hopes to resolve this situation soon’.
Free Basics Got Banned in India a Week Back
The move comes a week after India too took the initiative of banning the service altogether from the country. Criticized quite heavily for creating a “walled garden” by preferring some services over others, the service was revamped and relaunched not long back.
In the process, Facebook included a submission process for any developer that wanted to be included and changed the name from Internet.org to Free Basics.
In its defense, Facebook argues that it doesn’t charge varying amounts of money for access to different sites, rather bringing access to a few sites for free.
“Instead of recognizing that Free Basics fully respects net neutrality,” Zuckerberg wrote in Times of India, “they claim — falsely — the exact opposite.”
Again. the reasons for the closure of the service can totally be political. Remember, the use of services like Facebook and Twitter was at the heart of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings in the country. Banning services like Free Basics can make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, a fact the current leadership knows all too well.