Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the giant social networking site, has defended his Internet.org initiative after partners in India stepped back by the threat and issues it challenges to net neutrality.
The news spread after Zuckerberg told about the plans to enter Europe during a Facebook Q&A session. When asked him about entering the European market, he admitted, “Yes, we want to bring Internet.org where there are people who need to be connected.”
Internet.org is Facbook’s own initiative to bring together technology leaders, non-profits and local communities to connect the two thirds of the world that does not have any internet access. The initiative’s idea is that organizations who have partnered would provide poor versions of the websites with the charge on the publisher rather than the end user.
Many high profile names including BBC, Reliance India have signed up to the scheme, but after lot of commotion the net neutrality brought in India, the Time Group owner of Time of India along with various other publishers have withdrawn from the project. The Time Group also suggests other publishers to do the same, referring to the net neutrality that claims that Internet.org prioritizes the sites, thus meddling with the idea that all internet traffic is given the same treatment.
Apparently, the same issue of net neutrality has be on in USA too but it has not raised any concern. The net neutrality issue in USA was subsided after 3-2 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission guaranteeing that all internet traffic would be given equal status. Free Access is not the same as the prioritized data transfer, but the Time Group argues the result is the same.
“We support net neutrality because it creates a fair, level playing field for all companies – big and small – to produce the best service and offer it to consumers. We’ll lead the drive towards a neutral internet, but we need our fellow publishers and content providers to do so as well, so that the playing field continues to be level,” said a spokesperson from TimesGroup.
In the meanwhile, Zuckerberg claims that concept of Net Neutrality and Internet.org are two different themes and both can co-exist. He assures that Internet.org does not breach the rules of net neutrality and is more about offering free internet to people who cannot afford it. “Internet.org doesn’t block or throttle any other services or create fast lanes – and it never will. We’re open for all mobile operators and we are not stopping anyone from joining. We want as many internet providers to join so as many people as possible can be connected,” he wrote as a post on Facebook.
He also added, “Arguments about net neutrality shouldn’t be used to prevent the most disadvantages people in society from gaining access or to deprive people of opportunity. Eliminating programs that bring more people online won’t increase social inclusion or close the digital divide. It will only deprive all of us of the idea and contributions of the two thirds of the world who are not connected.”
This has been posted just in time when Facebook is launching Internet.org in Indonesia on the IndoSat network. Zuckerberg also offers his whole support to net neutrality and intends to keep the internet open.