About 40 faculty members from the IITs at Mumbai, Delhi, Khargapur and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore have decided to stand up against Facebook’s Free Basics. They have signed a petition criticizing Facebook’s initiative to offer free access to a few sites by saying that it is “misleading and flawed”. They will be submitting the petition to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday.
“Facebook’s ‘free basics’ (sic) proposal is such a lethal combination, having several deep flaws, beneath the veil of altruism wrapped around it in TV and other media advertisements,” says the petition.
Krithi Ramamritham, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay, said “This doesn’t, in anyway, represent the position of our institutions. I’ve been part of the earlier Net Neutrality debate and, as a group, we felt that our voice needs to be heard by TRAI,”.
“Free Basics by Facebook is a first step to connecting one billion Indians to jobs, education, and opportunities online, and ultimately a better future. But Free Basics is at risk of being banned, slowing progress towards digital equality in India,” according to an advertisement on Free Basics, released by Facebook.
In October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg while addressing a convention of faculty and students at IIT Delhi, where, among other things, he said that his company supported Net neutrality and Free Basics in no way contradicted those principles.